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Glob Public Health. 2016 Aug-Sep;11(7-8):835-48. doi: 10.1080/17441692.2015.1134615. Epub 2016 Jan 20.

The conflation of gender and sex: Gaps and opportunities in HIV data among transgender women and MSM.

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a Department of Epidemiology , Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health , Baltimore , MD , USA.
b Department of Health, Behavior, and Society , Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health , Baltimore , MD , USA.
c HIV Surveillance, Epidemiology and Evaluation, Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Prevention and Health Promotion Administration , Baltimore , MD , USA.


Historically, HIV studies have conflated men who have sex with men (MSM) with transgender (trans) women, explicitly excluded trans individuals, or included sample sizes of trans people that are too small to reach meaningful conclusions. Despite the heavy burden of HIV among trans women, conflation of this population with MSM has limited the information available on the social and behavioural factors that increase HIV vulnerability among trans women and how these factors may differ from MSM. Using data sets from quantitative studies among MSM (nā€‰=ā€‰645) and trans women (nā€‰=ā€‰89), as well as qualitative in-depth interviews with 30 trans women in Baltimore, we explore what these data tell us about similarities and differences in HIV vulnerability between the two groups and where they leave gaps in our understanding. We conclude with implications for data collection and intervention development.


HIV; MSM; intersectionality; syndemic; transgender women

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