Gender affirmative HIV care framework: Decisions on feminizing hormone therapy (FHT) and antiretroviral therapy (ART) among transgender women

Arjee J. RESTAR, E. Karina SANTAMARIA, Alexander ADIA, Jennifer NAZARENO, Randolph Chun Ho CHAN, Mark LURIE, Theo SANDFORT, Laufred HERNANDEZ, Susan CU-UVIN, Don OPERARIO

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Abstract

Background: Integration of feminizing hormone therapy (FHT) and antiretroviral therapy (ART) is critical in providing gender-affirming HIV care for transgender (trans) women living with HIV. However, interpersonal communications with HIV providers who are not competent with FHT may complicate this integration.

Methods: We conducted semi-structured interviews with trans women (n = 9) who self-reported as HIV-positive and their HIV providers (n = 15) from community-based venues (e.g., clinics) in Manila, Philippines.

Results: We identified five key themes from our qualitative data: (1) provider's concerns; (2) patient's goals; (3) affirmative vs. non-affirmative provider rhetoric; (4) alignment vs. misalignment of provider rhetoric to patient goals; and (5) FHT and ART-related decisions. Based on these themes, we describe a gender-affirmative HIV care framework to understand FHT-ART decisions among trans women living with HIV. Based on our data, this framework shows that provider-patient communications regarding ART and FHT consists primarily of provider concerns and patient goals regarding FHT. These communications can take on a gender-affirmative or non-affirmative style of rhetoric that either aligns or misaligns with patient goals and may lead to differences in FHT and ART-related decisions among trans women living with HIV.

Conclusion: There exist mixed regimens and beliefs about taking FHT and ART among this sample of trans women. While trans participants' main source of health information is their HIV provider, providers are likely to communicate non-affirmative rhetoric that negatively impacts trans women's decision to take FHT and ART. Research is needed to elucidate co-prescriptions of gender-affirmative services with HIV care among this group in the Philippines. Copyright © 2019 Restar et al.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0224133
JournalPLoS One
Volume14
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019

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Restar, A. J., Santamaria, E. K., Adia, A., Nazareno, J., Chan, R., Lurie, M., . . . Operario, D. (2019). Gender affirmative HIV care framework: Decisions on feminizing hormone therapy (FHT) and antiretroviral therapy (ART) among transgender women. PLoS One, 14(10). Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0224133