Individuals of transgender experience are disproportionately affected by human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), but resources for prevention and treatment within the mainstream healthcare system can be limited. Often, it’s grass-roots organizations that fill the healthcare gap for this community. In Philadelphia, the homegrown Trans Equity Project has been delivering peer-based health education and support to transgender individuals since 2003. A new research effort seeks to understand whether this local program, which provides a six-session HIV risk reduction program, could provide a model for other organizations to follow.
Dr. Omar Martinez, assistant professor in the Temple University College of Public Health School of Social Work, highlighted the Trans Equity Project’s work in a paper recently published in Health & Social Work. His report offers an overview of the project’s approaches to HIV prevention and care, which are built around the core idea of peers within the community assisting one another. Its services range from cognitive-behavioral therapy to peer-led delivery of services such as rapid HIV testing.
The program’s peer navigators work to prevent HIV transmission among those who may be homeless, engage in sex work, use substances, or inject silicone or hormones without medical supervision or reliable access to clean syringes. Counselors employ an approach called CLEAR (Choosing Life: Empowerment, Action, Results) that uses cognitive behavioral techniques to motivate people to change behavior. The program also offers assistance with transitioning, name changes, legal advocacy, and other services.Friday Letter Submission, Publish on August 02