The use of PrEP is growing but how well it protects is still being observed, especially in transgender and gender nonconforming individuals. The simple fact that transgender people have been excluded from past testing makes collecting important data extremely difficult. Only recently, have studies started changing how trans people, especially trans women are viewed and identified. In the past, transgender women were once placed in the MSM category (men that have sex with men) which didn't settle well with them. Due to this, many were left untreated and refused to be a part of research because of how they were classified. However, studies and categories are changing and now transgender people and the use of PrEP is being recognized more often. How and if hormones affect the drug is the primary focus and placing trans people within their own category is important because of the percentage of people on Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT).
In April of last year, a research study was announced in California that would focus solely on transgender individuals and to, “investigate potential drug interactions between PrEP and hormone use”. The use of this drug has life saving potential and the more people that use it, the less HIV will be transmittable. According to the CDC, nearly one quarter of all transgender people in the Untied States have been tested positively for HIV. Trans women of color face the highest risk, most of whom are unaware that they are infected.
The trans community, for so long, have been outcasts, making it difficult to get even the most basic of needs met. Many turn to sex work in order to live. Being transgender means being at risk of losing your job, or worse. Purchasing protection isn't always number one on this list of priorities. With these new studies, we will start to see if the use of PrEP works just as well in trans individuals as it does in cis bodies. Discovering this information will lead to an increase in volunteer subjects, as well as trust in research and more people protected. Knowing your status is another vital way to stop the transfer of HIV and now there are clinics open to transgender individuals. These clinics strive to provide a safe and inclusive atmosphere, with knowledgeable and experienced doctors on staff. For more more information on where to go for testing, visit www.aids.gov.