New Study Shows Transgender Men and PrEP Belong in PrEP Trials

A new study’s results have just been published verifying PrEP as just affective a drug in preventing the spread of HIV in transgender men as it is in all men.

Health Sexual Health Koelen Andrews

This article was published on October 10th, 2019

Transgender people often get the short end of the stick when it comes to societal acceptance, recognition, stability, and healthcare. While many surveys have been conducted involving the use of PrEP among transgender women, not much information has been available concerning PrEP usage and trans men who have sex with men. Until now. A new study’s results have just been published verifying PrEP as just affective a drug in preventing the spread of HIV in transgender men, just as it is for all other men.

“High risk and low uptake of pre‐exposure prophylaxis to prevent HIV acquisition in a national online sample of transgender men who have sex with men in the United States,” is the title of the newly-published, ground breaking study, published in the most current Journal of the international AIDS Society, from the Fenway Institute.

The Fenway Institute is revolutionary in that they are the premiere investigators of the use of pre‐exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

“Transgender MSM have been invisible in both transgender HIV prevention efforts and in cis MSM prevention delivery. Our study suggests that bio-behavioral HIV prevention methods, such as PrEP, should be made available to transgender MSM. Findings support the full inclusion of transgender MSM in biomedical HIV prevention services and research.” Said co-author of the study Dr. Sari Reisner, Director of Transgender Health Research at The Fenway Institute and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. 

Transgender men are currently excluded from PrEP trials. The study’s reveals that PrEP and other research on HIV prevention efforts should be more inclusive and have transgender MSM, as part of the research conducted.

The study, conducted between November and December 2017, was a national survey that included 857 transgender MSM between the ages of 18 and 60, with 65.3% of participants being under 30. Participants were asked to determine their HIV status and risk, PrEP use, and their bio-behavioral and psychosocial factors that go along with PrEP usage. Participants must have self‐reported receptive anal sex or frontal/vaginal sex with a cis male sex partner in the past six months.

The results were clear.  84% of those surveyed acknowledged that PrEP was a tool of prevention against HIV acquisition. Approximately 55% reported higher risk factors which indicated a greater need for PrEP use, including factors like: where these people met their sex partners, increased number of partners, and greater alcohol and drug use.  Only one-third of those surveyed had actually ever taken PrEP.

The findings clearly indicate transgender MSM will benefit from access to PrEP and that future HIV prevention research should in transgender men having sex with men.

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