.@HRC Observes National Transgender HIV Testing Day

On National Transgender HIV Testing Day, HRC is proud to lift up the work of Jazzmun Crayton, Health and Policy Coordinator at APAIT and a leader in the Los Angeles trans community.  Crayton founded The Midnight Stroll, a monthly after-hours outreach and HIV testing program that provides resources and hope to trans sex workers and homeless LGBTQ youth in the Hollywood area.

“The Midnight Stroll was created by local community-based organizations in response to the police department’s approach in handling trans-identified individuals who were being arrested at key times when engaging in street-based sex work,” Crayton said.  “The Midnight Stroll has evolved to ensure community members who are most at risk for HIV understand the services available around Los Angeles.”

Since the program’s launch in January 2017, Crayton has seen positive changes in the community.  “We have seen a deeply profound impact on the people we are encountering during the Midnight Stroll,” said Crayton. “Since our inception, we continue to see the most vulnerable being linked to HIV testing and other supportive services. Many of the individuals we encounter are grateful that someone is out there to provide some comfort and options to deal with their specific needs and to provide assistance with navigating the complex web of social services.”

In addition to her HIV advocacy, Crayton has leveraged her career in film and television to advocate for more trans representation in the media.  “We need people to be empathic, vocal, and demand for the visibility, safety and wellbeing of our community,” said Crayton.  “We must also ensure that HIV programs and services address the complex needs of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals, with an emphasis on homelessness, which is crippling the community at large.”

Transgender individuals, particularly transgender women of color, continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV and AIDS.  Data from the CDC shows that of the 2,351 transgender individuals who were diagnosed with HIV from 2009 to 2014, 84 percent were trans women, 15 percent weren’t trans men, and one percent had another gender identity. According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, social and structural barriers create significant challenges for trans individuals to access and adhere to HIV services. These barriers include pervasive discrimination and stigma for transgender people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS; lack of data on how HIV affects trans men, negative interactions with healthcare providers and law enforcement that creates distrust of institutions and public health initiatives; and co-occurring mental health and substance abuse conditions. HRC’s “Safer Sex for Trans Bodies” is a comprehensive sexual health guide for transgender and gender expansive people and their partners that aims to address some of these disparities.

HRC is proud to sponsor a screening of Jazzmun Crayton’s documentary, “In Full Bloom…Transcending Gender” as part of the Pittsburgh Underground Film Festival.  The screening will be held on Saturday, April 21 at 1:00 p.m.  Free HIV testing will provided on-site by Allies for Health + Wellbeing.

For information on HRC Foundation’s work to end HIV and HIV-related stigma, click here.

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