Sex Work and HIV Status Among Transgender Women: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Department of Social Policy and Social Work, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.
JAIDS Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes (Impact Factor: 4.56). 06/2008; 48(1):97-103. DOI: 10.1097/QAI.0b013e31816e3971
Source: PubMed


Transgender women are a key risk group for HIV, and epidemiologic studies have attributed high rates of HIV infection to behaviors associated with sex work in this population. This systematic review compared HIV prevalence among transgender female sex workers (TFSWs) with prevalence among transgender women who do not engage in sex work, male sex workers, and biologically female sex workers.
We conducted systematic searches of 6 electronic databases, and including studies that met pre-established criteria. We extracted data, appraised methodologic quality, assessed heterogeneity, and organized meta-analyses by comparison group.
We identified 25 studies among 6405 participants recruited from 14 countries. Overall crude HIV prevalence was 27.3% in TFSWs, 14.7% in transgender women not engaging in sex work, 15.1% in male sex workers, and 4.5% in female sex workers. Meta-analysis indicated that TFSWs experienced significantly higher risk for HIV infection in comparison to all other groups (relative risk [RR] = 1.46, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.02 to 2.09), and particularly in comparison to female sex workers (RR = 4.02, 95% CI: 1.60 to 10.11). We observed significant heterogeneity among the included studies, along with methodologic limitations and imprecise definitions of sex work and gender.
TFSWs could benefit from targeted HIV prevention interventions, HIV testing, and interventions to help reduce the risk of contracting or transmitting HIV. Structural interventions to reduce reliance on sex work among transgender women may be warranted.

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    • "Transgender people are twice as likely to be unemployed as non-transgender people (Grant et al., 2011), as stigma and discrimination restrict access to employment and income (Grant et al., 2011). Some transgender people, particularly transgender women, engage in sex work (Garofalo et al., 2006; Nemoto et al., 2006; Operario et al., 2008; Sausa et al., 2007; Sevelius et al., 2009). "
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    ABSTRACT: Transgender people have elevated substance use prevalence compared with the U.S. general population, however no studies have comprehensively examined the relationship of psychosocial risk factors to substance use and substance use disorder (SUD) treatment among both male-to-female (MTF) and female-to-male (FTM) transgender adults. Secondary data analysis of a 2013 community-based survey of transgender adults in Massachusetts (N=452) was conducted. Adjusted multivariable logistic regression models were fit to examine the relationship of four risk factor domains with SUD treatment history and recent substance use: (1) demographics; (2) gender-related characteristics; (3) mental health; (4) socio-structural factors. Adjusted Odds Ratios (aOR) and 95% Confidence Intervals (95% CI) were estimated. Ten percent of the sample reported lifetime SUD treatment. Factors associated with significant increase in odds of lifetime SUD treatment alongside recent substance use (all p<0.05) were: (1) older age (aOR=1.02; 95% CI=1.01-1.04), higher educational attainment (aOR=3.59; 95% CI=2.35-5.50), low income (aOR=0.58; 95% CI=0.39-0.86); (2) MTF identity (aOR=3.03; 95% CI=1.95-4.67), gender-affirming medical care (aOR=1.99; 95% CI=1.32-3.00); (3) intimate partner violence (aOR=1.68; 95% CI=1.13-2.49), posttraumatic stress disorder (aOR=2.56; 95% CI=1.69-3.88), depression (aOR=2.30; 95% CI=1.58-3.35), mental health treatment (aOR=1.65; 95% CI=1.11-2.45); (4) discrimination (aOR=1.90; 95% CI=1.22-2.95), unstable housing (aOR=1.80; 95% CI=1.21-2.67), and sex work (aOR=2.48; 95% CI=1.24-4.95). Substance use and SUD treatment among transgender adults are associated with demographic, gender-related, mental health, and socio-structural risk factors. Studies are warranted that identify SUD treatment barriers, and integrate SUD treatment with psychosocial and structural interventions for a diverse spectrum of transgender adults. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Drug and alcohol dependence 04/2015; 152. DOI:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2015.04.008 · 3.42 Impact Factor
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    • "Demographic and behavioral risk factors were also found to be differentially associated with sexual risk in MTF versus FTM youth, as sexual risk taking was associated with being young and white (non-Hispanic) in FTM youth, while current alcohol use was associated with sexual risk in FTM youth. Given that casual partnerships and sex work can place individuals as risk of acquiring HIV and other STIs (Baral et al., 2013; Hoffman, 2014; Operario, Soma, & Underhill, 2008; Sanchez et al., 2006), prevention efforts, including early intervention programs, that are attentive to both sex-specific (biological) and genderspecific (social) pathways to HIV and STI risk are warranted in community-based settings serving transgender youth. This study is not without limitations. "
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    ABSTRACT: The sexual health of transgender adolescents and young adults who present for health care in urban community health centers is understudied. A retrospective review of electronic health record (EHR) data was conducted from 180 transgender patients aged 12-29 years seen for one or more health-care visits between 2001 and 2010 at an urban community health center serving youth in Boston, MA. Analyses were restricted to 145 sexually active transgender youth (87.3% of the sample). Laboratory-confirmed HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) seroprevalence, demographics, sexual risk behavior, and structural and psychosocial risk indicators were extracted from the EHR. Analyses were descriptively focused for HIV and STIs. Stratified multivariable logistic regression models were fit for male-to-female (MTF) and female-to-male (FTM) patients separately to examine factors associated with any unprotected anal and/or vaginal sex (UAVS). The mean age was 20.0 (SD = 2.9); 21.7% people of color, 46.9% white (non-Hispanic), 21.4% race/ethnicity unknown; 43.4% MTF, and 56.6% FTM; and 68.3% were on cross-sex hormones. Prevalence of STIs: 4.8% HIV, 2.8% herpes simplex virus, 2.8% syphilis, 2.1% chlamydia, 2.1% gonorrhea, 2.8% hepatitis C, 1.4% human papilloma virus. Only gonorrhea prevalence significantly differed by gender identity (MTF 2.1% vs. 0.0% FTM; p = 0.046). Nearly half (47.6%) of the sample engaged in UAVS (52.4% MTF, 43.9% FTM, p = 0.311). FTM more frequently had a primary sex partner compared to MTF (48.8% vs. 25.4%; p = 0.004); MTF more frequently had a casual sex partner than FTM (69.8% vs. 42.7% p = 0.001). In multivariable models, MTF youth who were younger in age, white non-Hispanic, and reported a primary sex partner had increased odds of UAVS; whereas, FTM youth reporting a casual sex partner and current alcohol use had increased odds of UAVS (all p < 0.05). Factors associated with sexual risk differ for MTF and FTM youth. Partner type appears pivotal to understanding sexual risk in transgender adolescents and young adults. HIV and STI prevention efforts, including early intervention efforts, are needed in community-based settings serving transgender youth that attend to sex-specific (biological) and gender-related (social) pathways.
    AIDS Care 03/2015; 27(8):1-6. DOI:10.1080/09540121.2015.1020750 · 1.60 Impact Factor
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    • "For example, depression appears to be a prevalent mental health problem in transgender communities (Bockting, Miner, Swinburne Romaine, Hamilton, & Coleman , 2013; Clements-Nolle et al., 2001; Iantaffi & Bockting, 2011; Nuttbrock et al., 2010), but very few studies offer a cisgender comparison group to assess whether transgender adults experience higher levels of mental health distress relative to other natal sex/gender identity groups. HIV has been shown to disproportionately affect transgender communities globally relative to cisgender people, particularly transgender women (Baral et al., 2013; Herbst et al., 2008; Operario, Soma, & Underhill, 2008); yet, no data are available documenting HIV prevalence among transgender men in international settings. "
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    ABSTRACT: Few comparative data are available internationally to examine health differences by transgender identity. A barrier to monitoring the health and well-being of transgender people is the lack of inclusion of measures to assess natal sex/gender identity status in surveys. Data were from a cross-sectional anonymous online survey of members (n > 36,000) of a sexual networking website targeting men who have sex with men in Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries/territories in Latin America/the Caribbean, Portugal, and Spain. Natal sex/gender identity status was assessed using a two-step method (Step 1: assigned birth sex, Step 2: current gender identity). Male-to-female (MTF) and female-to-male (FTM) participants were compared to non-transgender males in age-adjusted regression models on socioeconomic status (SES) (education, income, sex work), masculine gender conformity, psychological health and well-being (lifetime suicidality, past-week depressive distress, positive self-worth, general self-rated health, gender related stressors), and sexual health (HIV-infection, past-year STIs, past-3 month unprotected anal or vaginal sex). The two-step method identified 190 transgender participants (0.54 %; 158 MTF, 32 FTM). Of the 12 health-related variables, six showed significant differences between the three groups: SES, masculine gender conformity, lifetime suicidality, depressive distress, positive self-worth, and past-year genital herpes. A two-step approach is recommended for health surveillance efforts to assess natal sex/gender identity status. Cognitive testing to formally validate assigned birth sex and current gender identity survey items in Spanish and Portuguese is encouraged.
    Archives of Sexual Behavior 07/2014; 43(8). DOI:10.1007/s10508-014-0314-2 · 3.53 Impact Factor
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