National Transgender HIV Testing Day observed on the Suncoast

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SARASOTA – “I am HIV positive. I’ve been HIV positive for 24 years. I’m more happy today than I am angered,” said David Wyland-White, the Prep Navigator Lead at CAN Community Health,

We’ve come a long way in the treatment of HIV, but there’s still a stigma associated with HIV and for transgender people that stigma is even greater.

“To know I have something, there’s stigma. Now I have to tell you I’m HIV positive, there’s a lot of stigma that goes along with that,” said Wyland-White.

Today is National Transgender HIV Testing Day and David doesn’t want these stigmas to stop transgender people from getting tested.

“The fact that you live in Florida, you live in a high risk state. The fact that you are trans, if you are trans youth. 40 percent of your peers are going to become HIV positive,” said Wyland-White.

Jami Gee who is a local trans-woman on the Suncoast says testing is very important.

“You’re not really sure what your partner has been through or the person you are with has been through and a lot of people aren’t up front. Ya know? They don’t know. So it’s really important to get tested so they know exactly what’s going on with themselves and with others,” said Gee.

CAN Community Health conducts HIV tests.

“Prick your finger. We go through your sexual health. Identify different behaviors, what you’re doing. We do counseling we do education during those 15 minutes,” said Wyland-White.

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Jessika Ward
Jessika Ward is a Sarasota native and an award-winning multimedia journalist. She joined the Suncoast News Network in February of 2018 and is happy to be back in her hometown. Jessika won three Florida Associated Press Awards while a student at Florida A&M University. Prior to coming to SNN, Jessika interned with WWSB ABC7 and worked as a videographer/editor at WTXL ABC27 in Tallahassee. ​​Jessika Ward is a proud rattler and Historically Black College and University (HBCU) advocate. She shares her HBCU experience in "Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities,” a documentary about the history and future of HBCU's that was presented in the Sundance Film Festival and aired on PBS. Jessika's hobbies include photography, watching independent films, watching sports, and reading a good book.