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Drivers of HIV infection among cisgender and transgender female sex worker populations in Baltimore city

Results from the SAPPHIRE study

Sherman, Susan G., PhD, MPH1; Park, Ju Nyeong, MHS1; Galai, Noya, PhD1,3; Allen, Sean T., DrPH1; Huettner, Steve S., BS2; Silberzahn, Bradley E., MA1; Decker, Michele R., PhD1; Poteat, Tonia C., PhD1; Footer, Katherine H.A., LLB, MSc1

JAIDS Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes: January 08, 2019 - Volume Publish Ahead of Print - Issue - p
doi: 10.1097/QAI.0000000000001959
Original Article: PDF Only

Objective: To determine and compare risk factors for HIV infection among cisgender female (CFSW) and transgender female (TFSW) sex workers.

Design: Baseline data from a cohort study (SAPPHIRE) of street-based CFSW and TFSW in Baltimore, MD.

Methods: Women were queried about individual (e.g., drug use), interpersonal (e.g., sexual abuse) and structural (e.g., housing) risk factors and questioned on their sex work risk environment. Women were tested for HIV/STIs. We used logistic regression to identify key risk factors of prevalent HIV in each population.

Results: We recruited 262 CFSW and 62 TFSW between 2016-2017. Compared to TFSW, CFSW were more likely to be white (66% vs. 0%), recently homeless (62% vs. 23%, p<0.001), regularly gone to sleep hungry (54% vs. 16%, p<0.001), and to inject drugs (71% vs. 4%, p<0.001). HIV prevalence was 8 times greater in TFSW than CFSW (40% vs 5%, p <0.001). All participants reported high rates of lifetime physical and sexual violence. Cocaine injection (aOR=3.65, 95% confidence interval [CI]=1.12-11.88), food insecurity (aOR=1.92, 95% CI=1.22-3.04), and >5 years in sex work (aOR=5.40, 95% CI=2.10-13.90) were independently associated with HIV among CFSW. Childhood sexual abuse (aOR=4.56, 95% CI=1.20-17.32), being in sex work due to lack of opportunities (aOR=4.81, 95% CI=1.29-17.90) and >5 years in sex work (aOR=5.62, 95% CI=1.44-21.85) were independently associated with HIV among TFSW.

Conclusions: Although distinct, both populations share a history of extensive childhood abuse and later life structural vulnerability, which drive their engagement in street-based sex work and their HIV risk profiles

1Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, USA

2Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, USA

3University of Haifa, Israel

Corresponding Author: Susan G. Sherman, PhD Department of Health Behavior and Society Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health 624 N Broadway St. Hampton House Suite 749 Baltimore, Maryland 21205 Phone: 410-614-3518 Fax: 4109551383 Email: ssherman@jhu.edu.

Sources of Funding and Conflicts of Interest: This work was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (R01DA038499-01) and Johns Hopkins University Center for AIDS Research (1P30AI094189). The funders had no role in study design, data collection, or in analysis and interpretation of the results, and this paper does not necessarily reflect views or opinions of the funders.

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