Marginalization of sex work presents numerous risks for trans women (TW) engaged in the sex trade, including criminalization, traumatization, and contracting HIV. We identified socio-economic and HIV risk disparities among trans women sex workers and others who do sex work (TWSW/OWSW), and evaluated these disparities for TWSW/OWSW compared to TW not engaged in sex work from pre- and post-implementation of the US 2018 “Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act” and “Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act” (FOSTA-SESTA).
We analyzed 429 trans women (TW) from the Trans*National cohort study (2016-2019). Generalized estimating equations (GEE) characterized differences in socio-economic and HIV risk outcomes for TWSW/OWSW compared to TW not engaged in sex work over the study period. Adjusted, pre-to-post law changes in these outcomes for TWSW/OWSW versus TW not engaged in sex work were compared using difference-in-differences GEE regression analyses.
Over 18 months, TWSW/OWSW had higher adjusted odds of being unstably housed, having income from criminalized sources, experiencing transphobic hate crimes, experiencing discrimination from police/courts, being incarcerated, meeting sex partners in the street/public settings, meeting sex partners on Craigslist or other online forums (except dating apps), or engaging in condomless anal intercourse, (p < 0.01 for all comparisons); TWSW/OWSW also had a higher mean number of income sources (p = 0.03). One difference-in-differences analysis showed additive interaction: the adjusted mean number of income sources reported by TWSW/OWSW compared to those not engaged in sex work decreased from pre-to post-FOSTA-SESTA (from 1.79 to 1.48 for TWSW/OWSW and from 1.52 to 1.47 for TW not engaged in sex work; p = 0.01).
Disparities in socio-economic and HIV-related risk outcomes exist for TWSW/OWSW in San Francisco. There is an urgent need for comprehensive, long-term follow-up data of TW to accurately analyze policy effects, especially given the recent enactment of a number of other policies targeting TW.