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Open Access Highly Accessed Research

Prevalence of human immunodeficiency virus infection among transgender men in Rawalpindi (Pakistan)

Hashaam Akhtar1*, Yasmeen Badshah1, Samar Akhtar2, Naghmana Kanwal1, Maha Nadeem Akhtar1, Najam us Sahar Sadaf Zaidi1 and Ishtiaq Qadri1

Author Affiliations

1 Atta-ur-Rahman School of Applied Biosciences, National University of Sciences and Technology, H-12 Sector, Islamabad, 44000, Pakistan

2 Riphah Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Riphah International University, 7th Avenue, Sector G-7/4, Islamabad, Pakistan

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Virology Journal 2012, 9:229  doi:10.1186/1743-422X-9-229

Published: 8 October 2012

Abstract

Background

Transgender males are at high risk for sexually transmitted diseases including AIDS caused by the notorious Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), yet little consideration is given by the policy makers, researchers and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) towards this sensitive issue in Pakistan.

Methods

In this study, we have investigated the prevalence of HIV infection among 306 transgender males with a median age of 29 years (range 15–64 years) residing in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Rapid HIV antibody-screening methods including the strip test and Enzyme Linked Immuno-absorbent tests were employed to detect HIV antibodies among the subjects. For further confirmation, Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) was carried out. Statistical analytical techniques utilized included logistic regression and chi-square.

Results

HIV-1 was found to be the predominant viral subtype. PCR confirmed 21.6% (Confidence Interval 0.17-0.26) of the respondents were reported being HIV positive. 15.7% of the transgender men who shave at home and 13.7% of the transgender men who were educated below 5th grade were found to have HIV.

Conclusion

This study shows a very high prevalence of HIV among transgender males. Unawareness among these individuals about the ramifications of this infection owes largely to lack of education. The spread rate is alarming and HIV epidemic is imminent if awareness is not widespread.

Keywords:
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV); Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS); Eunuch; Transgender Pakistan; Sex rate