HIV Testing Low Among Transgender Adults

CDC researchers found that the trend of HIV testing is lower in some groups, based on gender and cultural identity.


Transgender men and women are at high risk for HIV infection. In a recent analysis of more than 9 million CDC-funded HIV test results, transgender women had the highest percentage of confirmed positive results (2.7%) of any gender category. But this group also tends to have too-low testing numbers. In a CDC study, only 36% of transgender women and 32% of transgender men reported being tested; only 10% of both groups had been tested in the past year. By comparison, gay and bisexual men reported getting tested at roughly twice the rates (61.8% ever and 21.6% past year).

Black transgender women and men had twice the prevalence of ever testing compared with their white counterparts (63%-67% vs 31%-33%). Transgender women who had been diagnosed with a depressive disorder had the highest prevalence of getting tested for HIV (69%).

Transgender persons face “unique barriers to testing,” the CDC researchers say, such as the HIV stigma within the transgender community, gender identity stigma in health care settings, and socioeconomic marginalization. The CDC is working on “innovative approaches” to delivering HIV testing and other prevention and support services to transgender persons who are at risk for or have newly diagnosed HIV.

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