Transgender people are at high risk for HIV, but too little is known about prevention and treatment

Transgender women have among the highest rates of HIV infection but little is known about HIV prevalence among trans men, Tonia Poteat of Johns Hopkins said in a plenary lecture on transgender health and HIV at the recent Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2016) in Boston – the first ever on this population at CROI. A growing number of studies and prevention and treatment programmes are addressing transgender populations, but more research is needed.

Dr Poteat noted that while mainstream knowledge about transgender men and women is relatively new in the US and Europe, people outside the male-female gender binary have long existed in many cultures, such as the hijra in India. Yet traditional ‘one-step’ data collection approaches can make it difficult to accurately identify trans people in HIV research.

One worldwide meta-analysis of 39 studies from 15 countries found that transgender women had an HIV prevalence rate of 19% – 49 times higher than that of the general population. In high-income countries the prevalence was 22%, with the highest rate among trans women of colour. 

A number of biological and social and structural factors may make transgender people more susceptible to HIV infection or less likely to use prevention methods or access treatment if they become infected.  Read more via AIDSmap