Image credit: NIAID

Several studies have been made on HIV, PrEP, and the cisgender gay male community. But when it comes to trans men who have sex with men, there have literally been no studies done.

That changes with a study published in the Journal of the International AIDS Society. Titled “High risk and low uptake of pre‐exposure prophylaxis to prevent HIV acquisition in a national online sample of transgender men who have sex with men in the United States,” the study examined the risk factors faced by trans men who have sex with men, as well as their PrEP use. The study involved 857 trans men and was conducted online from November 2017 to December 2017.

The study participants can be divided into three groups: 71.6 percent who identified as a transgender male, 28.4 percent who identified as nonbinary, and 32.6 percent who identified as gay. All of them had either vaginal or anal sex within the past six months with a cisgender male.

The study, unfortunately, did not paint a reassuring picture when it came to trans men and PrEP use. Only a third of the study participants have ever taken PrEP, despite 84 percent of them knowing about PrEP as a way to prevent the spread of HIV. More than half of the study participants also revealed engaging in behavior that put them in high risk of being infected with HIV, which makes it even more important for them to take PrEP.

There are several reasons why researchers think PrEP use is low among trans men, with one of them being the stigma they face that often leads to substance abuse and mental health issues. Other compounding factors include a lack of adherence to the treatment, HIV testing centers being inaccessible  to trans men, and a lack of health insurance.

With this study, the hope is that more are done that include transgender men so that appropriate interventions can be made to keep them healthy and safe.

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