NIH Spends $38K to Study ‘Social Patterns’ of HIV Care Among Transgender Women

By Melanie Arter | August 7, 2014 | 4:21 PM EDT

(AP File Photo)

( – The federal government is spending $37,533 in taxpayer dollars to study the social patterns and pathways of HIV care among HIV positive transgender women.

The National Institute of Nursing Research, a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), awarded the grant to the Indiana University – Purdue University at Indianapolis for the project that began on July 3, 2012 and will end on July 2, 2015.

According to the grant abstract, “transgender women (TGW), (i.e., biological men who live their lives as women), are at particularly high risk for HIV infection and HIV-related morbidity and mortality.”

Studies indicate that transgender women “have the highest HIV prevalence rates of all gender and sexual minorities,” the grant said, but research also shows “they are less likely to enter and be retained in HIV care.”

Therefore, “they are more likely to suffer adverse health outcomes and infect others.”

Once they discover they are HIV positive, transgender women are less likely than other sexual minorities to seek HIV care, the grant said.

Research on “gender and sexual minorities” grouped the transgendered population in with lesbians, gays, and bisexuals.

The grant noted, however, that the Office of National AIDS Police and the Institute of Medicine “cautioned that this combined approach has obscured the differences that exist within and between these populations, and has resulted in inadequate examination of the health needs and experiences of the transgender population.”

The study will address these concerns and explore transgender women’s experiences as it pertains to “seeking, entering and being retained in care.”

The study will specifically “examine the role of social network factors” on transgender women’s decision “to enter into and remain engaged in care” and describe the processes “that undergird their use of HIV care throughout the course of their illness.

The budget began on July 3, 2014 and will end on July 2, 2015. attempted to contact Dana Hines, project leader of the grant, by email. However, no response was given by press time.