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HIV Prevalence at 30% Among Transgender Women in Lima, Peru

Author: Mark Mascolini


14 May 2012

HIV prevalence stands at 30% among transgender women in Lima, Peru, according to results of a 450-transwoman study. The investigators conclude that “transwomen are the group most vulnerable to HIV/AIDS in Peru.”

Peru has an estimated 75,000 people with HIV infection, according to UNAIDS, and an HIV prevalence of 0.4% among 15- to 49-year-olds, lower than the estimated 0.6% in the United States. Transgender women are often included in research on men who have sex with men, as in the iPrEx study of tenofovir/emtricitabine for pre-exposure prophylaxis. This is the first seroepidemiologic study designed specifically for transgender women in Peru.

By respondent-driven sampling, researchers recruited 450 transgender women between April and July 2009. Transwomen completed a survey on sociodemographic characteristics, gender enhancement procedures, and sexual behavior. All study participants were tested for HIV, syphilis, and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2).

Nearly one third of study participants, 30%, had HIV. HSV-2 prevalence stood at 79% and syphilis prevalence at 23%.

While 70% of transwomen reported having gender-enhancement procedures, 64% reported sex work as their main economic activity.

Multivariable analysis found a higher risk of HIV infection in transwomen older than 35, those with syphilis, and those with HSV-2.

Source: Alfonso Silva-Santisteban, H. Fisher Raymond, Ximena Salazar, Jana Villayzan, Segundo Leon, Willi McFarland, Carlos F. Caceres. Understanding the HIV/AIDS epidemic in transgender women of Lima, Peru: results from a sero-epidemiologic study using respondent driven sampling. AIDS and Behavior. 2012; 16: 872-881.

For the study abstract

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