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Gender identity and HIV risk: an important link

Gender identity is a crucial factor affecting HIV risk among men who have sex with men (MSM) in South Africa, and this area of study urgently needs more attention in order to effectively address the HIV epidemic in the MSM population.

This finding is reported in an article recently published by Anova Health Institute authors in the international scientific journal AIDS Care. The article discusses the findings from a study conducted with MSM in Cape Town where it was found that MSM who identified themselves as being female or transgender had a higher level of HIV infection than other MSM, were more likely to have engaged in activities that placed them at high risk of contracting HIV, and were more likely to be unemployed and living in poverty.

These findings are important because they show that within a population that already has a high risk of HIV, individuals’ gender identities may place MSM at an even greater risk of contracting HIV. The article concludes by noting that it is critical for HIV prevention, treatment, and care interventions for MSM to be sensitive to the specific needs of gender non-conforming individuals in order to provide them with effective services.

The article is available here

Queries can be directed to Researcher Geoffrey Jobson – jobson@anovahealth.co.za