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42 Percent of Transgender Women With Valid HIV Test Are HIV+

MONDAY, April 19, 2021 -- Forty-two percent of transgender women with a valid HIV test result have a positive result, with considerable regional and ethnic/racial variation, according to a report issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Taylor Robbins, M.P.H., from the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues present data from 1,608 transgender women who participated in the National HIV Behavioral Surveillance (NHBS) in 2019 and early 2020, of whom 32 percent identified as a woman and 87 percent as a transgender woman.

The researchers found that 42 percent of the participants with a valid HIV test result tested positive for HIV. HIV prevalence varied by city, from 21 percent in Seattle to 58 percent in Atlanta. HIV prevalence varied by race and ethnicity and was 17 percent among Whites and among Native Hawaiian/other Pacific Islanders and 65 and 62 percent among American Indian/Alaska Natives and Black/African Americans, respectively. Of the participants, 17 percent had no health insurance and 7 percent had not visited a health care provider; 63 percent had household income at or below the poverty level. Forty-two percent of the participants had experienced homelessness in the 12 months before the interview and 17 percent had been incarcerated.

"These data provide a clear and compelling picture of the severe toll of HIV among transgender women and the social and economic factors -- including systemic racism and transphobia -- that are contributing to this unacceptable burden," Demetre Daskalakis, M.D., M.P.H., director of the CDC Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, said in a statement.

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