Drug interaction concerns may affect HIV treatment adherence among transgender women

Transgender women -- people whose birth certificates indicate or once indicated male sex but who identify as women -- are at high risk of HIV acquisition, and thus are a key population for HIV prevention and treatment efforts. A new study by researchers supported by the National Institutes of Health and Gilead Sciences reveals that among transgender women in Los Angeles, more than half of those living with HIV were concerned that taking both antiretroviral therapy (ART) for the treatment of HIV and feminizing hormone therapy (HT) may be associated with harmful drug interactions, about which little is clinically understood. Many in the surveyed group cited these concerns as a reason for not taking anti-HIV medications, HT, or both as prescribed by a health care professional.

This finding is concerning because early and consistent use of effective anti-HIV medications prevents both HIV-related health problems and transmission of the virus to a sexual partner. Transgender women have a high incidence of HIV acquisition: according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a 2013 meta-analysis estimated that 22 percent of transgender women were living with HIV in five high-income countries, including the United States. Researchers supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), both part of NIH, presented the new findings at the 9th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Science today in Paris.

"The best thing a person living with HIV can do is to start and stay on safe, effective antiretroviral therapy, both to maintain their own health and to prevent sexual transmission of the virus," said Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., NIAID Director. "We need to ensure we understand the perspectives of groups disproportionately affected by this pandemic to provide the best health care for them. Further study is needed to help determine how health care teams can optimally tailor care and treatment for those living with HIV." Read more via Science Daily