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Transgender sexual health in China: a cross-sectional online survey in China


Objective Transgender individuals are at increased risk for HIV infection around the world, yet few studies have focused on transgender individuals in China. We conducted an online cross-sectional survey of men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender individuals to examine sociodemographics, intimate partner violence (IPV) and sexual behaviours in China.

Methods We recruited participants (born biologically male, ≥16 years old, ever engaged in anal sex with men and agreed to provide cell phone number) from three web platforms in 2014. Data on sociodemographics, IPV and sexual behaviours were collected. Logistic regressions were performed to compare the differences between transgender individuals and non-transgender MSM.

Results Overall, 1424 eligible participants completed our online survey. Of these participants, 61 (4.3%) were transgender individuals, including 28 (2.0%) identifying as women and 33 (2.3%) identifying as transgender. Compared with MSM, transgender individuals were more likely to have experienced IPV and sexual violence (economic abuse, physical abuse, threat to harm loved ones, threat to ‘out’, forced sex). In addition, transgender individuals were more likely to have engaged in commercial sex (21.3% vs 5.1%, aOR 4.80, 95% CI 2.43 to 9.51) and group sex (26.2% vs 9.2%, aOR 3.47, 95% CI 1.58 to 6.48) in the last 12 months.

Conclusions Our study is consistent with the emerging literature demonstrating increased sexual risk behaviours and high levels of IPV among transgender individuals. Future research should further investigate transgender individuals' experiences of IPV and explore ways to promote disclosure of gender identity to healthcare providers. Furthermore, transgender research in China should be expanded independently of MSM research.


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