Transgender Sexual Healthcare

The HIV/AIDS epidemic has had a significant effect on transgender people. However, due to a lack of systematic surveillance and reporting of HIV prevalence rates among transgender people, the exact prevalence of HIV among this population remains unknown.

In a recent 12-city study, HIV prevalence rates among transgender women were found to vary from 5 to 68 percent. Studies continue to suggest that HIV infection is highest among transgender women of color, with HIV prevalence rates ranging from 41 to 63 percent among African-American transgender women; 14 to 50 percent among Latina transgender women; and 4 to 13 percent among Asian-Pacific Islander transgender women.

Although under-examined, HIV prevalence in transgender men (FTMs) is estimated to range from 2 to 3 percent. In the first studies of HIV among MTF transgender youth, HIV prevalence varied from 19 to 22 percent, showing them to be at high risk for infection.

Despite high HIV prevalence rates among transgender women, some studies suggest a disparity in the availability of HIV treatment services. For example, a recent four-city study found that transgender women were less likely to receive highly active anti-retroviral therapy than a control group of men who have sex with men (MSM), heterosexual women and men, and male intravenous drug users (IDUs).

As with HIV/AIDS, there is a lack of systematic surveillance of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) among transgender people. However, some research has found varying prevalence rates of syphilis (3 to 79 percent); gonorrhea (4 to 14 percent); chlamydia (2 to 8 percent); herpes (2 to 6 percent); and human papillomavirus (HPV) (3 to 7 percent) within the population.

Prevalence rates of other infectious diseases among transgender people are not well known. Limited studies have found hepatitis C prevalence rates between 11 to 24 percent and hepatitis B rates from 4 to 76 percent among specific samples of transgender women. Other studies on non-sexually transmitted diseases, such as tuberculosis (TB), found a prevalence rate of up to 13 percent among transgender women in San Francisco.1

1Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Top Health Issues for LGBT Populations Information & Resource Kit. HHS Publication No. (SMA) 12-4684. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2012.