According to a 2017 report by the DC Department of Health (DOH) HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD and TB Administration (HAHSTA), 12,964 people residing in Washington D. C. live with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
For that reason, HAHSTA is launching the “Pledge to be PrEPared” campaign this month to educate the transgender community living in Washington D. C. about the importance of taking Preexposure Prophylaxis or PrEP.
PrEP is a pill taken once a day, and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that can prevent the HIV infection. Taken daily, PrEP is safe and over 90% effective at preventing HIV.
This unique campaign was created with the close participation of the Latin transgender community in Washington D. C. and Alexa Rodriguez, the Director of Trans-Latin@ DMV. It was developed based on HAHSTA’s ability to recognize the way the transgender community has been perceived in the past. The transgender representation is important to allow this community to communicate their values, their role in society, as well as their needs.
The transgender community participation in the campaign took place from the strategic planning and focus groups to the inclusion of real transgender Latina women in the promotional materials. This resulted in trusted messages in hopes of building trust among this community when deciding to take PrEP, as well as understanding its benefits.
“It’s important to educate the transgender community, as well as to break barriers and taboos about taking PrEP, and understand the real benefits of taking it, especially to prevent HIV,” Alexa said. She added that “the DC Department of Health’s efforts to benefit the transgender community are a big step, but there is still a lot to be done.”
Michael Kharfen, HAHSTA’s Senior Deputy Director, agreed with Alexa’s statement, adding: “At DOH we are pleased to introduce this campaign created in collaboration with the transgender community, but we understand these are just the first steps, and that there is more to do in order to fulfill our commitment and dedication to supporting this significant community residing in Washington D. C.”