Gender-Based Discrimination and Unprotected Receptive Anal Intercourse Among Transgender Women in Brazil

A Mixed Methods Study

Published in: PLOS ONE, Volume 13, Number 4 (April 2018), Page e0194306. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0194306

Posted on RAND.org on May 02, 2018

by Laio Magno, Ines Dourado, Luis Augusto Vasconcelos da Silva, Sandra Brignol, Leila Amorim, Sarah MacCarthy

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Introduction

Discrimination related to gender identity may directly influence vulnerability to HIV through increased exposure to unprotected receptive anal intercourse (URAI). Little is known about the relationship between gender-based discrimination (GBD) and URAI with stable partners among transgender women.

Methods

This mixed-methods research began with a cross-sectional survey conducted between 2014 and 2016 with transgender women in Salvador, the capital city in one of the poorest regions in Brazil. Respondent-driven sampling was used to recruit the study population. GBD was defined through Latent Class Analysis. Additionally, 19 semi-structured interviews with participants were transcribed and analyzed through thematic content analysis.

Results

URAI with stable partners was commonly reported (37.3%). GDB was positively associated with URAI among stable partners (OR = 6.47; IC 95%: 1.67–25.02). The analysis of the interviews illustrated how GBD impacted transgender women in diverse ways. Experiences with GBD perpetrated by the family often initiated a trajectory of economic vulnerability that led many to engage in survival sex work. The constant experience with GBD contributed to participants feeling an immense sense of trust with their stable partners, ultimately diminished their desire to use condoms. Further, the high frequency of GBD contributed to poor mental health overall, though some participants said engagement in transgender advocacy efforts provided a vital source of resilience and support.

Conclusion

Our mixed-method study capitalizes upon the strengths of diverse data sets to produce a holistic understanding of GBD and URAI with stable partners. Furthermore, by confirming the association between greater GBD and URAI, we have demonstrated how GBD can impact condom negotiation in diverse relationships.

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