HIV Prevalence and Sexual Behaviors Among Transgender Women in Tehran, Iran


To date, no study has looked at the prevalence of HIV and the high-risk behaviors among transgender women in Iran. Between May 2013 and February 2014, 104 transgender women were recruited for participation in this study. Inclusion criteria consisted of having an official letter from the Tehran Psychiatric Institute, or a well-known psychiatrist, that showed a diagnosis of gender dysphoria and/or completed Gender-Affirming Surgery at least 6 months prior to this study. Of the 104 participants, 2 were diagnosed with HIV, which translates to a HIV prevalence of 1.9%. Condom use with a non-paying partner, casual partner, and paying partner was respectively 39.7%, 34.6%, and 53.3%. A high percentage of transgender women in Tehran engage in high-risk sexual behaviors including condomless receptive anal sex, which is of particular concern given the low rates of HIV testing. Targeted public intervention programs and research are desperately needed for this high-risk group.


El objetivo de nuestro estudio fue de determinar la prevalencia del VIH y las conductas de alto riesgo en esta población. Reclutamos 104 mujeres transgénero entre 2013 y 2014. Incluimos participantes con una carta oficial del Instituto Psiquiátrico de Teherán, un diagnóstico de Disforia de Género pour un psiquiatra reconocido y/o Cirugía de Afirmación de Género completa al menos seis meses antes de este estudio. De los 104 participantes, 2 fueron diagnosticados con VIH, con una prevalencia de VIH de 1.9%. El uso de condón con una pareja que no paga, una pareja ocasional y una pareja que paga, respectivamente, fue de 39.7%, 34.6% y 53.3%. Un alto porcentaje de mujeres transgénero en Teherán se involucra en conductas sexuales de alto riesgo, lo cual es de particular preocupación debido a las bajas tasas de pruebas de VIH. Para este grupo, se necesitan programas de intervención pública e investigación.

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We would like to thank Ahmadreza Lotfi for assistance with data collection and the study participants who made this study possible.


This study was funded by Tehran University of Medical Sciences and Health Services (Grant No. 91-01-55-16272).

Author information




SM, LT, and RN collaborated in the writing of the manuscript. SM, MM, MR, and ME were Involved in the design and conducting of the survey. SM performed the statistical analyses. NH has done serological analysis. MM and MR supervised the survey and revised the manuscript before submission.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Minoo Mohraz.

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Ethical Approval

This study was approved by Tehran University of Medical Sciences ethical committee and the Iranian Research Center for HIV/AIDS (IRCHA) and was performed in accordance with the 1964 Helsinki declaration.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Moayedi-Nia, S., Taheri, L., Hosseini Rouzbahani, N. et al. HIV Prevalence and Sexual Behaviors Among Transgender Women in Tehran, Iran. AIDS Behav 23, 1590–1593 (2019).

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  • Transgender women
  • Transwomen
  • HIV
  • Sexual behaviors
  • Gender-Affirming Surgery