Use of the Internet to Meet Sexual Partners, Sexual Risk Behavior, and Mental Health in Transgender Adults
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The purpose of this study was to examine the use of the internet to meet sexual partners among transgender individuals and examine correlates of this use, including sexual risk behavior, discrimination experiences, and mental health. A sample of 166 transgender adults (112 male-to-female transgender women and 54 female-to-male transgender men) were recruited in community venues and anonymously completed measures assessing these variables. Most participants (64.5 %) were HIV-negative, 25.2 % were HIV-positive, and 10.3 % did not know their HIV status. Overall, 33.7 % of participants reported having met a sexual partner over the internet, which did not differ significantly between transgender women and men. Among these individuals, transgender women reported significantly more lifetime internet sexual partners (median = 3) than transgender men (median = 1). Use of the internet to meet sexual partners was associated with lower self-esteem but not with depression, anxiety, somatic distress or discrimination experiences. Among transgender women, use of the internet to meet sexual partners was associated with each of the 11 sexual risk behaviors examined, including having multiple partners, sex under the influence of drugs, number of unprotected anal or vaginal sex acts, and history of commercial sex work. The use of the internet to meet partners was not associated with sexual risk behavior among transgender men (0/11 variables assessed). Although the internet is a common mode of meeting sexual partners among some transgender adults, it may also be a potential venue for prevention interventions targeting transgender individuals at particularly high risk for HIV acquisition.
KeywordsTransgender Internet Sexual behavior HIV Commercial sex work
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