- The Fenway Health of the Fenway Institute issued the guidelines in a policy brief called Retaining transgender women in care: Best practices in the field.
- It contained best practices and treatment programs that would cater to the needs of transgender women who are afflicted with HIV, with the goal of improving rates of adhering to their treatment.
- Sean Cahill, one of the authors of the guideline, said that trans women of all racial and ethnic backgrounds are 49 more likely to live with HIV than the general population.
New guidelines containing best practices in providing the best care for transgender patients living with HIV was released.
In a transgender news by The Rainbow Times website last April 14, the Fenway Health of the Fenway Institute issued the guidelines in a policy brief called Retaining transgender women in care: Best practices in the field.
HIV and transgender women
It contained best practices and treatment programs that would cater to the needs of transgender women who are afflicted with HIV, with the goal of improving rates of adhering to their treatment.
It has been observed that transgender women were more likely to get infected with the virus than the other population, with transgender women in color in disproportionate rate . However, they were less likely to receive treatment or follow their prescribed treatments.
Sean Cahill, director at The Fenway Institute’s Health Policy Research and one of the authors of the guideline, said that trans women of all racial and ethnic backgrounds are 49 more likely to live with HIV than the general population.
“Black and Latina transgender women are especially vulnerable,” said Cahill shared. “HIV treatment adherence is lower for transgender women. This is an urgent crisis and requires action.”
Transgender patients struggled with many barriers in accessing treatment including lack of health insurance, prior negative healthcare experience, anxiety of mistreatment and stigma, and wrong belief that HIV medications would negate the effects of medications given for their hormone treatment.
“One of the easiest interventions is simply showing representation of transgender people in the healthcare setting with brochures and signs, or even better, hiring transgender staff. This sends a message that transgender women are welcome and valued in that clinic,” Cahill explained. “Patients should also be able to confidentially inform their healthcare provider of their gender identity.”
Environment of trust
Other best practices outlined were to create an environment of trust and building transparency through trauma-informed approach in order to lessen past trauma that patients went through either in healthcare or in society.
The brief also mentioned the positive contribution of community-based programs, such as the Feminas Project in Lima Peru. Organized by The Fenway Institute in Boston and other groups in Peru, the program’s best practices included providing treatment even when patients couldn’t pay, involving transgender peers, making HIV treatment part of the gender-affirming program, and integrating healthcare with other services assisting them in their housing, legal, and employment needs.
“Transgender women living with HIV have complex needs,” Cahill commented. “We encourage those providing care to transgender women to adopt these best practices to improve health outcomes for transgender people living with HIV.”
The brief was co-authored by Connor Volphi, a fellow in the institute, and was part of the presentation Cahil presented last year with the National Association of State and Territorial AIDS Directors and various state health departments.
The Fenway Health, an interdisciplinary center focusing on national and international health concerns, had been advocating for health among the broader population, members of the LGBT community, and people who are living with HIV/AIDS.