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Religiosity as a Protective Factor Against HIV Risk Among Young Transgender Women

September 21, 2011

"Young transgender women (YTW) face many challenges to their well-being, including homelessness, joblessness, victimization, and alarming rates of HIV infection," explained the study authors. Noting a dearth of literature on potential HIV prevention factors in this population, the researchers aimed to examine the role of religion in YTW's lives and its relationship to HIV risk.


Using baseline data collected for an HIV prevention intervention, the study incorporated a convenience sample of YTW ages 16-25 from Chicago who were recruited consecutively and completed an audio computer-assisted self-interview. Logistic regression models were used to evaluate the relationship between sexual risk-taking (sex work, multiple anal sex partners, unprotected receptive anal sex), alcohol use, formal religious practices (service attendance, reading/studying scripture), and God Consciousness (prayer, thoughts about God).

Ninety-two YTW participated in the study; mean age was 20.4 years; 58 percent were African-American, 21 percent white and 22 percent other. Multivariate logistic regression showed alcohol use was significantly associated with sexual risk in both models, with adjusted odds ratio of 5.28 (95 percent confidence interval: 1.96-14.26) in the Formal Practices model and 3.70 (95 percent CI: 1.53-8.95) in the God Consciousness model. After controlling for alcohol use, the Formal Practices model was found to be significantly associated with sexual risk (OR=.29, 95 percent CI:.11-.77) while God Consciousness was not (OR=.60, 95 percent CI:.25-1.47).

"Among YTW, formal religious practices may attenuate sexual risk-taking behaviors and therefore HIV risk. Further research is needed to explore the role of the religion in the lives of YTW as a protective asset," the study authors concluded.

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Excerpted from:
Journal of Adolescent Health
04.2011; Vol. 48; No. 4: P. 410-414; Nadia Dowshen, M.D.; Christine M. Forke, M.S.N., R.N., C.R.N.P.; Amy K. Johnson, M.S.W.; Lisa M. Kuhns, Ph.D., M.P.H.; David Rubin, M.D., M.S.C.E.; Robert Garofalo, M.D., M.P.H.

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