Studies show that transgender people in the U.S. are much more likely to be diagnosed with HIV than others. But with its latest funding effort, Gilead Sciences is looking to change that stat. It'll make an initial grant of $2 million to community groups across the U.S. that will help transgender people.
The newly established Gilead TRANScend Community Impact Fund is accepting applications for its first round of donations, expected to be chosen and awarded by the end of the year.
Some of the statistics Gilead would like to disrupt? A 2017 study found that transgender people receive a new HIV diagnosis at a rate three times the national average. Another stat of concern: About half of African American transgender women and one-fourth of Latina transgender women are estimated to be living with HIV.
“Even though there have been strides made, we wanted to put together a program that could hopefully help to evaluate some of these issues and how best to address them,” Amy Flood, Gilead's senior vice president of public affairs, said.
For Gilead, it’s the second initiative this year to fund underrepresented groups in the HIV space. The Gilead HIV Age Positively initiative, unveiled in May, gave out grants totaling more than $17 million to 30 different organizations in the U.S. to help people living and aging with HIV. It follows Gilead’s pledge in 2017 to spend $100 million over 10 years to support efforts to reduce HIV-related stigma and inequalities that disproportionately affect people living in the South.
The idea for the TRANScend fund came out of an advisory board convened earlier this year, made up of transgender people and people who lead organizations for transgender people. The group agreed there is “tremendous need” for services and help around transgender health in part because of the specific challenges that community faces, including social stigma, inadequate access to healthcare and high rates of partner violence, Flood said.
Because transgender and HIV issues often intersect, as evidenced by the statistics, Gilead believes that the programs it funds will go beyond HIV needs.
“I think these programs are going to look at transgender health, in many cases, holistically, and HIV is one part of that. But there are many other issues as well,” Flood said. “The statistics on the CDC’s website should give us a sense of urgency for transgender health beyond HIV.”