Transgender women (transwomen) are frequently conflated with cisgender sexual minority men (cis-SMM) in HIV research. We examined the impact of socioeconomic and health conditions, and gender-affirming hormones in comparing HIV-related outcomes between cis-SMM and transwomen.
Large tertiary care health system in the Bronx, NY.
Retrospective cohort study of people with HIV receiving care in 2008–2017. We compared retention in care, antiretroviral therapy (ART) prescription, and viral suppression between cis-SMM and transwomen, using modified Poisson regression, adjusting for demographic and clinical factors. Transwomen were further stratified by receipt of estrogen prescription.
We included 166 transwomen (1.4%), 1936 cis-SMM (17%), 4715 other cisgender men (41%), and 4745 cisgender women (41%). Transwomen were more likely to have public insurance (78% vs 65%) and mental health (49% vs 39%) or substance use (43% vs 33%) diagnoses than cis-SMM. Compared with cis-SMM, transwomen prescribed estrogen (67% of transwomen) were more likely to be retained [adjusted risk ratio (aRR) 1.15, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.08 to 1.23), prescribed ART (aRR 1.06, CI 1.01 to 1.11), and virally suppressed (aRR 1.08, CI 1.01 to 1.16). Transwomen not prescribed estrogen were less likely to be retained (aRR 0.92, CI 0.83 to 1.02), prescribed ART (aRR 0.90, CI 0.82 to 0.98), or virally suppressed (aRR 0.85, CI 0.76 to 0.95).
In the context of HIV, socioeconomic factors, comorbidities, and gender-affirming care distinguish transwomen from cis-SMM. Compared with cis-SMM, transwomen who were prescribed estrogen had better HIV care continuum outcomes; transwomen not prescribed estrogen had worse outcomes. These differences should be accounted for in HIV-related research.