Association between violence exposure and condom non-use among transgender sex workers in the Dominican Republic: the mediating role of trust

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Abstract

Transgender women are a high-risk population, and transgender female sex workers are one of the most vulnerable populations globally. Transgender female sex workers have high rates of sexually transmitted infections, HIV, and exposure to violence compared to cisgender sex workers; these negative exposures are associated with an increase in HIV risk behaviors. Thus, the aim of this study is to examine the relationship between exposure to violence and condom non-use in transgender female sex workers residing in the Dominican Republic. We hypothesize that mediation exists wherein the effects of violence on condom non-use are mediated by distrust. Facilitated interview data (N = 78) were used. Primary outcome was condom non-use with coercive partner. Four logistic regression models and a mediation analysis were employed. Respondents’ mean age was 23.0 years (SD = 4.8) with an average level education attainment of 10.1 years (SD = 2.6); 35% reported experiencing violence; 17% believed that a person who asks a partner to use a condom does not trust that partner. Exploratory mediation analyses yielded a significant indirect effect of experience with violence on condom non-use through distrust (b = 0.64, SE = 0.33, p = .05). Results suggest that distrust mediates the association between experienced violence and condom use with coercive partners. It was concluded that developing interventions on increasing resilience and perceived self-worth, plus provision of screening for violence and referral services may reduce maladaptive attributions and cognitions about condom use. Furthermore, by implementing policies that protect vulnerable populations, and subsequently enforcing them, the Dominican Republic has the opportunity to improve overall population health and protect their most disadvantaged citizens.

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