AIDS care 2017 05 25() 1-8 doi 10.1080/09540121.2017.1332736
Male-to-female transgender sex workers (TSW) have been identified as a key population at risk for HIV. This study examined risk behaviors and HIV prevalence among TSW, and described health services use. A participatory cross-sectional survey was conducted with 125 TSW recruited in locations and networks where sex workers congregate. HIV-risk behaviors were common among participants. Inconsistent condom use with clients in the previous month was reported by 12.0% of participants and was associated with Portuguese nationality, inconsistent condom use with non-paying partners and not been reached by HIV prevention programs in the previous year. Ever use of psychoactive substances was reported by 61.6% of participants and was associated with being non-employed, doing full-time sex work, having higher number of non-paying partners and having never used health services. Also, ever use of psychoactive substances was negatively associated with older age and Portuguese nationality. About 34% of the participants reported having not been tested in the previous 12 months; 20.2% never used the health services. Overall, 14.9% (95%CI: 8.0-21.0%) reported being HIV-positive. Of those, 22.2% (95%CI: 1.0-43.5%) had unprotected sex with clients in the previous month, 26.7% (95%CI: 1.3-52.0%) had unprotected sex with non-paying partners in the previous year, 13.3% (95%CI: 0.0-33.0%) had ever injected drugs, 60.0% (95%CI: 23.0-97.0%) reported a past STI and 33.3% (95%CI: 2.0-64.6%) had currently HIV/STI co-infection. The socioeconomic, relational or partnering, and structural contexts conducive to increased risk are warranting further investigation. This knowledge would be valuable to inform prevention programs. HIV interventions, including secondary prevention, should address specific needs of TSW. Outreach initiatives aimed to reach TSW who are difficult to access can play a role in promoting access to health services and reducing HIV infection and transmission.