Risk Behavior and Sexually Transmitted Infections Among Transgender Women and Men Undergoing Community-Based Screening for Acute and Early HIV Infection in San Diego

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Abstract

The transgender community represents an understudied population in the literature. The objective of this study was to compare risk behavior, and HIV and sexually transmitted infection (STI) rates between transgender women and transgender men undergoing community-based HIV testing.

With this retrospective analysis of a cohort study, we characterize HIV infection rates as well as reported risk behaviors and reported STI in 151 individual transgender women and 30 individual transgender men undergoing community based, voluntary screening for acute and early HIV infection (AEH) in San Diego, California between April 2008 and July 2014.

HIV positivity rate was low for both, transgender women and transgender men undergoing AEH screening (2% and 3%, respectively), and the self-reported STI rate for the prior 12 months was 13% for both. Although transgender women appeared to engage in higher rates of risk behavior overall, with 69% engaged in condomless receptive anal intercourse (CRAI) and 11% engaged in sex work, it is important to note that 91% of transgender women reported recent sexual intercourse, 73% had more than 1 sexual partner, 63% reported intercourse with males, 37% intercourse with males and females, and 30% had CRAI.

Our results indicate that in some settings rates of HIV infection, as well as rates of reported STIs and sexual risk behavior in transgender men may resemble those found in transgender women. Our findings support the need for comprehensive HIV prevention in both, transgender women and men.

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