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How Astoundingly High Are Transgender Women's HIV Rates?

By Sunnivie Brydum

A new analysis of studies on the HIV infection rates for transgender women from 15 countries found that the odds of transgender women having HIV are 50 times greater than the general population, according to The Lancet of Infectious Diseases.

"Transgender women have been either excluded or ignored in most HIV surveillance systems around the world, resulting in a limited understanding of the burden of HIV among this group," Stefan Baral, MD, MPH,director of the key populations programs in the Center for Public Health and Human Rights at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, told the Healio's Infectious Disease News. "However, where studied, transgender women carry among the highest burden of HIV of any population."

The meta-study, which analyzed data from 15 countries, found that the worldwide prevalence of HIV among the 11,066 transgender women surveyed was a staggering 19.1%. Compared with all adults in those 15 countries, the overall risk for transgender women having HIV was 48.8%, according to IDN.

"The results were surprising in terms of the magnitude of the increased odds — nearly 50 times — of transgender women having HIV compared to other adults of reproductive age," Baral told IDN. "These data should stimulate interest in characterizing the burden of HIV and associated risk factors for transgender women across the world. In addition, these data suggest that studies need to be developed for transgender women specifically, rather than accruing them as a subpopulation of men who have sex with men."

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