AIDS and Behavior

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 18–26 | Cite as

Men Who Have Sex with Transgender Women: Challenges to Category-based HIV Prevention

  • Don OperarioEmail author
  • Jennifer Burton
  • Kristen Underhill
  • Jae Sevelius
Original Paper


Although transgender women are acknowledged as a priority population for HIV prevention, there is little knowledge on men who have sex with transgender women (MSTGWs). MSTGWs challenge conventional sexual orientation categories in public health and HIV prevention research, and warrant increased attention from the public health community. This paper used qualitative techniques to analyze how MSTGWs describe their sexual orientation identities, and to explore the correspondence between men’s identities and sexual behaviors with transgender women. We conducted in-depth semi-structured individual interviews with 46 MSTGWs in San Francisco. We observed a diversity in the ways participants identified and explained their sexual orientation, and found no consistent patterns between how men described their sexual orientation identity versus their sexual behavior and attraction to transgender women. Findings from this qualitative study question the utility of category-based approaches to HIV prevention with MSTGWs and offer insights into developing HIV interventions for these men.


Men Transgender HIV Sexual orientation Qualitative 



We would like to thank Lally Adao and Andrea Horne, and all men who participated in this study. This research was supported by the California HIV/AIDS Research Program (grant ID03-SF-009) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (grant R01-DA18621).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Don Operario
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jennifer Burton
    • 1
  • Kristen Underhill
    • 1
  • Jae Sevelius
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Social Policy and Social WorkUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  2. 2.Center for AIDS Prevention StudiesUniversity of CaliforniaSan FranciscoUSA

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