HIV: Precieved Risk vs Actual Risk

risk

noun\ ˈrisk  \

Definition of risk

in a state or condition marked by a high level of risk or susceptibility ie. patients at risk of infection

Let’s really have a real conversation about transmasculine individuals and sex. For so long transmen and transmasculine people have been left out of many important conversations within the HIV and AIDS area. Why? The reason is that there is a myth that transmasculine folks primarily engage in sexual behaviors with cis women. This can’t be the furthest from the truth. Data reported by Professor Sarit Golub of the City University of New York in the September issue of the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, provides the first quantitative data on PrEP in trans men and transmasculine folks. Based on this study of 1808 participants only 10% identified as straight, meaning our demographic is quite a bit more sexually diverse than most think. This also changes what our risk looks like. With 38% identifying as queer, 16% identifying as pansexual, 14% identifying as gay and 13% identfying as bisexual this brings the risk factor up much higher than previously assumed. This study is one of very few studies done on the transmasculine population, the lack of research in itself is a risk factor.

This study brings to light just one of the struggles transmasculine folks endure. The lack of visibility to our demographic in this arena could cause us the be the next wave of the HIV epidemic. Of those surveyed only a third of them received information about PrEP from their doctors, only 11% had a prescription for PrEP, and 23% reported condomless receptive sex. The authors of this study say “Enhanced efforts should be made by providers, programs, and systems to assess HIV-related risk in transmasculine patients and engage them in comprehensive sexual health care.” I completely agree and these systems and programs also need to change the methods of accounting for transmasculine individuals. So often we are not identified correctly and we are lumped in with lesbians when it comes to risk and how our sexual behaviors are perceived.

This misconception and lack of research sends out a very dangerous message to our transmasculine community. The message being that because we are transmasculine we are a low risk of contracting HIV, when in reality we are the most sexualy diverse community and this would put us at the highest risk. A survey that was done by the International AIDS Society with transmen / transmasculine folks who had a cisgender male partner found 55% of them engaged in condomless receptive sex.

There needs to be more done to include our community in this and so many more conversations around medical needs, mental health, and reproductive justice.

Have a different opinion or perception? Have you experienced this? Join the conversation and comment below and let’s talk about this.

Like, Share, Subscribe….All the things!

Luckie

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