Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Behavioural survey and street-based HIV and HCV rapid testing programme among transgender sex workers
  1. Giuseppe Lapadula1,2,
  2. Alessandro Soria2,
  3. Massimo Modesti3,
  4. Arianna Vecchi3,
  5. Francesca Sabbatini2,
  6. Antonia Monopoli3,
  7. Nicola Squillace2,
  8. Eugenia Lungu3,
  9. Jessenia Coloma3,
  10. Paola Columpsi2,
  11. Vincenzo Cristiano3,
  12. Paolo Bonfanti1,2
  1. 1School of Medicine, University of Milan-Bicocca, Monza, Italy
  2. 2Clinic of Infectious Diseases, San Gerardo Hospital - ASST Monza, Monza, Italy
  3. 3ALA Milano Onlus, Milan, Italy
  1. Correspondence to Dr Giuseppe Lapadula, University of Milan–Bicocca, Milano, Italy; giuseppe.lapadula{at}unimib.it

Abstract

Background Transgender women sex workers (TGW-SW) are disproportionally affected by HIV and have reduced access to testing. Moreover, information regarding their behaviours and health needs is scarce.

Methods A behavioural survey and a targeted testing programme in prostitution sites were conducted in Milan and Monza areas. The non-profit organisation ‘ALA Milano Onlus’ and ‘San Gerardo’ Hospital (Monza) implemented a mobile HIV testing unit involving a TGW peer educator, four physicians, a counsellor, a psychologist and a cultural mediator. All TGW-SW were offered anonymous HIV and hepatitis C virus (HCV) oral testing and asked to fill a questionnaire on sexual habits, drug abuse, and knowledge and attitudes towards HIV and STDs.

Results Between May and July 2017, 130 TGW-SW, predominantly migrants, were contacted during 15 street visits; among them, 78 (60%) were interviewed. HIV and HCV testing were accepted by 53 (42%) and 67 (52%) TGW-SW, respectively. Twenty-five (19.8%) subjects who reported already established HIV infection were not retested. Seven patients received a new diagnosis of HIV, while nobody tested positive for HCV. Overall, HIV prevalence was 13.2% (25% including those with already known HIV infection). Recent arrival in Italy and young age were associated with risk of undiagnosed HIV infection. Inconsistent condom use was commonly reported during commercial sex (27%) and with non-commercial partners (64%). Alcohol and cocaine abuse were common problems which facilitated risky behaviours.

Conclusions Oral rapid HIV and HCV testing for TGW-SW in outreach settings were feasible and acceptable and led to a considerable number of new diagnoses. Interventions tailored to TGW-SW, focused on HIV prevention, testing and engagement in care, are fundamental.

  • transgender persons
  • sex work
  • HIV seroprevalence
  • sexual behavior

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. The full database is available upon request to the corresponding author.

Statistics from Altmetric.com

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. The full database is available upon request to the corresponding author.

View Full Text

Footnotes

  • Handling editor Anna Maria Geretti

  • Twitter @Macondo77

  • Contributors GL conceived the study, contributed to data collection, analysed and interpreted the data, wrote the final version and submitted the manuscript. AS contributed to data collection, critically revised the data, contributed to data interpretation and drafted the manuscript. MM planned and coordinated the survey and contributed to study design. AV conducted the survey, collected the data and contributed to reporting and interpretation. FS and NS contributed to data collection and interpretation and critically revised the paper. AM contributed to study design, conducted the survey and collected the data. EL contributed to study design, conducted the survey, collected the data and contributed to their interpretation. JC conducted the survey and contributed to data collection. PC contributed to data interpretation and critically revised the paper. VC collected funding, contributed to planning and coordination of the survey and critically revised the paper. PB contributed to data interpretation and manuscript drafting and critically revised the paper.

    GL (the guarantor) accepts full responsibility for the work and/or the conduct of the study, had access to the data, and controlled the decision to publish.

  • Funding This work was supported by an unrestricted grant from Gilead to ALA Milano Onlus (Gilead Community Award 2016).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.