In what media reports are calling a "seminal" event, a new public service announcement for the 20th observance of World AIDS Day was revealed yesterday. What makes this PSA stand out is that it's the first one developed by and aimed at the wellness of the Asian Pacific Islander transgender community.
Medical News Today reports that the PSA is:
"The first of its kind to specifically address transgender women-particularly in the A&PI community-who are at higher risk for HIV infection and face discrimination for being transgender, of color, or both."
The spot, produced by the non-profit organization The Banyan Project, will air nationally and online. The Banyan Tree Project is a national campaign dedicated to reducing HIV-related stigma in Asian Pacific Islander communities.
HIV is a prevalent issue in transgender communities. Just this year the Chicago-based publication Positively Aware, a bi-monthly magazine that reports on aspects of HIV/AIDS, dedicated the July/August edition to transgender issues. According to the article in Medical news Today, national studies suggest that 27.7% of transgender women have HIV. Two different 2004 studies conducted in San Francisco estimated that up to 27% of Asian Pacific Islander transgender women have HIV.
The PSA focuses on reducing stigma and shame related to discussing HIV and AIDS in the Asian Pacific Islander community. From the article:
"This community is often overlooked, and many of the outreach and prevention programs servicing transgender women are in danger of dissolution due to state and local funding cuts. This PSA is one way to continue the dialogue with an underserved, high-risk community in this historically unprecedented economic environment."
The PSA features Tita Aida, Asia Vitale, and Erica Raney. Tita Aida is a long-time AIDS activst who was recently appointed to be the first transgender woman to sit on the Commission of Status of Women in San Francisco. Asia Vitale is well known for work in the 2006 documentary Beautiful Daughters, and Erica Raney currently serves as the peer leader for the Asian & Pacific Islander Transgender Empowerment program. Read the script below, or watch the PSA:
"I am in control of who I am and how I live my life. As Asian & Pacific Islander transgender women, we are at risk of getting infected with HIV. But we can change that. We can call the shots. Be in control of your health and life. Talk to your partner about using protection every time you have sex."