While male-to-female transgender persons are believed to often engage in sex work and have high HIV infection risk, little is known about demographics, surgical and hormone use history, risk behaviors and HIV prevalence. The study on such topics was therefore carried out by a group of academicians, health practitioners, and community organisations from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Thai Red Cross Society, Rainbow Sky Association of Thailand, Thailand Ministry of Public Health and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/
Between March and October 2005, 474 transgender women from Bangkok, Chiangmai, and Phuket were surveyed using venue-day-time sampling. Of 474 participants, overall HIV prevalence was 13.5%. Most participants had completed at least secondary or vocational education (79.2%), gender self-identified as female (89.0%), had received money, gifts or valuables for sex (60.8%), and reported hormone use (88.6%). Surgical history was taken from 325 participants. Of these, 68.6% reported some form of surgery and 11.1% had undergone penile-vaginal reconstructive surgery. In multivariate analysis, being recruited from a park/street; older age, anal sex role identification as ‘‘versatile’’ and anal sex debut before age 13 were independently associated with HIV prevalence. The development, implementation and evaluation of culturally appropriate sexual health interventions for Thai trans women are urgently needed.
The complete study has now been published in AIDS and Behaviour Journal.