Los Angeles County is home to a large and heterogenous transgender population, ranging from homeless sex workers to those who are completely assimilated and living in the suburbs. To date, there has been very little information available on the prevalence of HIV risk behavior and the impact of HIV prevention efforts in this population. HIV-related research studies and HIV/AIDS surveillance activities have not routinely included the "transgender" designation in their data collection instruments. Despite the paucity of data, several published reports from other locales and limited unpublished data from Los Angeles County suggest that many in this population are at increased risk for HIV infection. The Los Angeles County Community HIV Prevention Planning Committee has designated the transgender population as one of its highest priorities for HIV prevention efforts . In the most recent HIV Prevention application submitted to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the transgender population was identified as one of the key groups for which epidemiologic data are lacking and critically needed.
- To determine HIV seroprevalence and seroincidence in the transgender population.
- To evaluate the effectiveness of current HIV prevention services for transgenders at risk of HIV infection or transmission.
The HIV Epidemiology Program, Van Ness Recovery House, The Asian Pacific AIDS Intervention Team, Bienestar Human Services and The Minority AIDS Project are doing a collaborative research study of male-to-female (MTF) Transgenders in Los Angeles County. The study is being done with the support of the University of California Universitywide AIDS Research Program and the Office of AIDS Programs and Policy. The study is seeking to enroll MTF transgendered persons residing in Los Angeles County. This group will include transgenders recruited from HIV prevention programs at the four participating AIDS service organizations (ASO) and transgenders recruited from street venues targeted for outreach by the ASO's. Baseline data will be collected through personal interviews conducted by trained interviewers. In addition, 6- month follow-up interviews will be done with the participants initially recruited from the ASO sites. The questionnaire includes: 1) screening questions to determine eligibility for participation; 2) demographics and socioeconomic status; 3) healthcare utilization and medical history; 3) sexual behavior; 4) injection and non-injection drug use; 4) psychosocial and legal issues; and 5) HIV prevention issues. HIV serostatus will be determined at the time of each interview using an oral fluid-based HIV antibody test.
Paul A. Simon, M.D., M.P.H.