US: Begins to Fill Huge Data Gap on HIV Among Transgender People

Until recently, trying to find good information about HIV among transgender people was an exercise in frustration. Few studies have looked in depth at trans women and men living with or at risk for HIV, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website long lacked the kind of detailed data available for other population groups.

"As a country, we've been slow to understand and accept gender diversity," said Tonia Poteat, Ph.D., PA-C, M.P.H., of Johns Hopkins University, one of the foremost experts on HIV among trans people. "Therefore, researchers and public health practitioners have only recently begun to acknowledge the importance of identifying transgender people within the data we do have and to begin to collect data specifically among transgender people."

Small studies, as well as the reported experiences of providers and advocates who work with the trans community, indicate that trans women have high HIV rates. However, it has been hard to put this into numbers -- and even less is known about trans men. Partly, this has been due to a failure to look for the data, but how trans women and men are identified has also played a role.

Importantly, over the past few years, more public health agencies have recognized the need to collect data about trans people with HIV, and new approaches to doing it have evolved. Read more via the Body