Though black women are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS, black trans women have been virtually ignored, noted Laverne Cox.
“We’re left out of almost every discussion,” Cox said. “The CDC [Center for Disease Control] still counts transgender women as men who have sex with men. So when we look at statistics of women who catch HIV, we [trans women] are not counted in our national census data. We are just continually erased and when we don’t have data collection, and people to do the research, dollars don’t get to the community.”
Cox also pointed out that many trans women don’t “feel safe” going to healthcare providers for fear of discrimination.
“We have to do better at making trans people feel included and feel safe so we can seek out treatment, so we can get the information we need to protect ourselves,” she said adding that black trans women deserve a “seat at the table” in discussing HIV/AIDS, “So we’re not just talked about but we are actually included in the conversation to address these issues.”
Woodard, who was presented with the trailblazer honor from Luke Cage star Mike Colter, and Oscar winner Mahershala Ali, recognizing her decades of commitment to tackling the AIDS epidemic, shared advice for a new generation facing the harsh reality of the disease, more than three decades after it was first discovered.
“Each generation has to find out something for themselves, unfortunately. This is one where they don’t need to reinvent the wheel,” the 64-year-old actress shared with ET. “Ya’ll have to believe us when we say this is the way we protect yourself as we continue to do research to find a cure for [AIDS]. Like when we told you don’t put your fingers in the light socket, trust us on this.”
For Riverdale actress Vanessa Morgan, the issues hits home.
“Two of my aunts have passed away from AIDS and two my of my uncles -- they were obviously married --are living with it,” the Canadian actress revealed of her family members in Africa whom she tries to help out "as much as we can."
“I know about the experience first hand and how tough it can be. It’s hard, obviously you hope they [my family members] can live as long as possible, that they’re getting their meds that they need."