Background In the Middle East and North Africa region, there is a scarcity of studies that focus on transgender individuals. Not only this group is regarded as one of the most at risk for HIV infection, but the burden of social stigma in this area of the world regarding transgender persons is very high. A single study by Kaplan et al. that focused on HIV related risk and resilience among 10 transgender women (TW) in Lebanon reported 0% HIV rate. The aim of this study was to characterize TW, a hard-to-reach population, and to understand HIV/STIs risky behavior in a sample in Lebanon.
Methods Interviews were conducted with 18 Lebanese TW using an STI clinic and checkpoint in Lebanon. Data were analyzed using Qualitative Thematic Analysis.
Results Three principal themes were raised: social issues; stigma, discrimination/trauma and mental health issues; healthcare access.High risky behavior as condomless sexual intercourses were mentioned due to social and family rejections, difficult to access healthcare services, and stigma with discrimination. However, according to the findings, access to HIV/STIs services was considered better when compared to other health services.
Conclusion This qualitative study investigated HIV/STIs risk behaviors of TW in Lebanon. Our findings about social and family issues, discrimination and stigma, health care access difficulty even from LGBT community should help local programs to better understand the TW population in Lebanon and their needs. Special services addressing TW in non-medical and medical issues, taking into consideration an overall comprehensive and multi-disciplinary intervention appears to be the most useful.
Disclosure No significant relationships.
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