Following an HIV diagnosis, transgender women are less likely than other groups to receive partner services. This involves public health workers asking for names of sex or needle-sharing partners, contacting those individuals to inform them that they might have been exposed to HIV and offering HIV testing and risk reduction counseling, including referrals for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).
Publishing their findings in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) researchers analyzed data on HIV partner services submitted by 61 health departments between 2013 and 2017.
Data on partner services were provided for the partners of 208,304 people diagnosed with HIV during the study period, including 1,727 trans women (0.8%).
A total of 71.5% of the trans women were interviewed for partner services, compared with 81.1% of all others diagnosed with HIV during the study period.
Compared with trans women 13 to 24 years old, those 35 years old and older were less likely to be interviewed for partner services following an HIV diagnosis.
Compared with HIV-diagnosed trans women living in the Northeast, those living in the Midwest and the South were 1.18-fold and 1.15-fold more likely to be interviewed for partner services, respectively, while those in the West were 25% less likely to be interviewed.
Of the 1,089 trans women named as partners of people diagnosed with HIV and interviewed for partner services, 71.2% were notified that they might have been exposed to the virus. This compared with a 77.1% rate of notification of all others who were named through partner services by people disagnosed with HIV.
Compared with trans women partners of those interviewed for partner services who were 13 to 24 years old, those 25 years old and older were 22% less likely to be notified of a potential HIV exposure. Compared with trans women partners who were white, those who were Black were 11% less likely to be notified. And compared with trans women partners living in the Northeast, those living in the South and the West were 2.0-fold and 1.35-fold more likely to be notified.
Only 46.5% of the transgender women notified though partner services actually received an HIV test. A total of 18.6% of these women were diagnosed with the virus (5.0% had been diagnosed previously), compared with 17.6% of all the other groups who were tested for HIV through partner services. Compared with trans women partners who were white, those who were Black were 17% less likely to be tested for HIV.
“Providing partner services to index transgender women and transgender women partners requires additional efforts to address the social and structural barriers unique to this population, provide timely prevention services, help reduce HIV transmission and end the HIV epidemic in the United States,” the study authors concluded.
To read the report, click here.