What is already known about this topic?
Transgender persons are at high risk for HIV infection. CDC recommends that persons at high risk for HIV infection be screened for HIV at least annually, but transgender persons are not specified in the current recommendations, and current nationwide HIV testing rates for transgender persons are unknown.
What is added by this report?
This analysis of 2014 and 2015 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data showed that transgender women and men self-reported a lower prevalence of HIV testing (both ever and in the past year) compared with gay and bisexual men whose gender identities match their sex assignments at birth (cisgender). Transgender women and men self-reported testing at levels similar to cisgender heterosexual men and women.
What are the implications for public health practice?
Transgender women and men reported current HIV testing levels that were inconsistent with their HIV risk profiles. Innovative, tailored approaches might be needed to reach transgender persons who are not being reached by existing HIV prevention strategies that focus on other key populations, such as gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men.
Transgender persons are at high risk for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection; in a recent analysis of the results of over nine million CDC funded HIV tests, transgender women* had the highest percentage of confirmed positive results (2.7%) of any gender category (1). Transgender men,† particularly those who have sex with cisgender§ men, are also at high risk for infection (2). HIV testing is critical for detecting and treating persons who are infected and delivering preventive services to those who are uninfected. CDC recommends that persons at high risk for HIV infection be screened for HIV at least annually, although transgender persons are not specified in the current recommendations. CDC analyzed data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) to describe HIV testing among transgender women and men and two cisgender comparison groups in 27 states and Guam. After adjusting for demographic characteristics, transgender women and men had a lower prevalence of ever testing and past year testing for HIV (35.6% and 31.6% ever, and 10.0% and 10.2% past year, respectively) compared with cisgender gay and bisexual men (61.8% ever and 21.6% past year) and instead reported testing at levels comparable to cisgender heterosexual men and women (35.2% ever, and 8.6% past year). This finding suggests that transgender women and men might not be sufficiently reached by current HIV testing measures. Tailoring HIV testing activities to overcome the unique barriers faced by transgender women and men might increase rates of testing among these populations.