Transgender Women 49 Times More Likely To Have HIV, Study Says

Published: April 2, 2013

Transgender women were 49 times more likely to have HIV compared to a reference population, according to a new study on transgender women and HIV.

Led by Dr. Stefan Baral, director of the key populations programs in the Center for Public Health and Human Rights at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, a team of researchers conducted a review and meta-analysis of studies assessing HIV infection among transgender women in 15 countries over the span of about a decade and compared it to adults of similar reproductive age in those populations.

Data were only available in countries "with male-predominant HIV epidemics," including six Asia-Pacific countries, five Latin American countries, three European countries and the United States.

"The odds ratio for being infected with HIV in transgender women compared with all adults of reproductive age across the 15 countries was 48·8," the researchers state in their findings.

"This is part of a series we’ve been doing on under-served populations," Baral told The Huffington Post in an phone interview. Of the other populations the team has studied — including female sex workers and men who have sex with men (MSM) — transgender women were the least likely to be studied, yet they had the highest HIV rates by far.

Transgender women have been largely left out of the HIV narrative, or they have been incorrectly lumped into other categories, such as gay men, or men who have sex with men, Baral told HuffPost. As a result, many transgender women don’t participate in studies, even if given a chance.

"It doesn’t seem like it’s been a priority for global funding entities to care about the needs of transgender communities," Baral said.

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