June 5, 2013
Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania -- led by Baligh R. Yehia, MD, MPP, MSHP, a clinical instructor in the Division of Infectious Disease at the Perelman School of Medicine -- conducted a retrospective analysis from 2001 to 2011 of approximately 36,845 patients at 13 clinics in the HIV Research Network, a consortium that cares for HIV-infected patients in the United States. Of the group, 285 self-identified as transgender.
Results showed that transgender individuals with HIV infection stayed in care to the same extent as other HIV-positive men or women. According to the study, transgender persons remained in care, received antiretroviral therapy, and achieved HIV suppression 80 percent, 76 percent, and 68 percent of the time, respectively, during the study's 10-year timeframe. Results for men were 81 percent, 77 percent, and 69 percent while women were 81 percent, 73 percent, and 63 percent. Transgender patients were more likely to be young and Hispanic.
Yehia suggested several factors to explain the improvement in care and suppression rates among the transgender individuals, including the great advances in HIV therapy and management and increased attention from advocates and groups on identifying people quickly, linking them to care, and starting earlier treatment. Another factor is the increased focus on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) health in general, such as the interest among federal institutions and national organizations on the importance of improving health of LGBT populations by understanding and addressing their healthcare needs.
The full study, "Retention in Care and Health Outcomes of Transgender Persons Living with HIV," was published online in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases (2013; doi: 10.1093/cid/cit363).