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Transgender Women’s Experiences Using a Home HIV-Testing Kit for Partner-Testing


HIV partner-testing (PT) may represent a unique and empowering HIV prevention strategy for groups that face structural and institutional barriers to HIV testing and care, including transgender women. We report on in-depth interviews (IDIs) with N = 10 transgender women who used HIV self-test kits for three months to screen potential sexual partners in a randomized controlled trial (iSUM; “I’ll Show You Mine”) that took place in New York City and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Participants were assigned to intervention (supplied with 10 self-test kits immediately) or control groups (received 6 test kits after 3 months). We conducted IDIs with the first N = 10 transgender women to enroll in the intervention group after three months in the study (after participants used kits with partners) to understand their experiences. Themes discussed in IDIs included: partners’ reaction to HIV testing, participants’ reactions to partners’ test results or refusal to test, partners’ own reaction to their test results, and decision-making around test use. Data were independently analyzed by two coders. Overwhelmingly, participants’ experiences with PT was positive. Participants reported kits were convenient and acceptable to most partners. Transgender women felt that PT could pose additional risk for them; one woman experienced violence related to kit use. Furthermore, the availability of kits appeared to encourage participants and their partners to think about their HIV status and, in some cases, modify sexual behavior. Work suggests that HIV PT could be a viable risk-reduction strategy for transgender women.

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The authors wish to thank the participants who shared their time and thoughts about using PT kits with potential sexual partners. Research was supported by a grant from NICHD (R01 AI113127; PI: Alex Carballo-Diéguez) and from the National Institute of Mental Health at the HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies at the NY State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University (P30 MH43520; Center PI: Robert Remien, Ph.D.). The first author is supported by a K01 Award (K01 MH115785; PI: Christine Tagliaferri Rael, Ph.D.). William Brown III was supported by the National Library of Medicine (NLM) [grant numbers R01- LM012355 PI: Schillinger, T15-LM007079 PI: Hripcsak, R01-LM013045 PI: Lyles], the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) [grant number P60-MD006902 PI: Bibbins-Domingo], the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) [grant number K12-HS026383], and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) of the NIH [UCSF-CTSI grant number KL2-TR001870] during various stages of the research and/or preparation of the article … The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of NICHD, NIMH, NLM, NIMHD, AHRQ, NCATS, or the NIH. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute of Mental Health or the National Institutes of Health. The research team would like to thank all participants.

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Correspondence to Christine Tagliaferri Rael.

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Rael, C.T., Giguere, R., Lopez-Rios, J. et al. Transgender Women’s Experiences Using a Home HIV-Testing Kit for Partner-Testing. AIDS Behav 24, 2732–2741 (2020).

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  • HIV
  • HIV self-test
  • OraQuick
  • Partner HIV testing
  • Secondary distribution
  • Male partners
  • Transgender women
  • Trans women
  • Transwomen
  • HIV testing