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Laboratory-confirmed HIV and sexually transmitted infection seropositivity and risk behavior among sexually active transgender patients at an adolescent and young adult urban community health center

Sari L Reisner, Ralph Vetters, Jaclyn M White, Elijah L Cohen, M LeClerc, Shayne Zaslow, Sarah Wolfrum, Matthew J Mimiaga
AIDS Care 2015, 27 (8): 1031-6
25790139
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.

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