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PrEP awareness and protective barrier negotiation among transgender people attracted to men in Aotearoa New Zealand.

INTRODUCTION: Internationally, trans women are disproportionately impacted by HIV, encounter specific barriers navigating safer sex and face inequities accessing HIV prevention, including pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Aotearoa/New Zealand (hereafter Aotearoa) was one of the first countries internationally to publicly fund PrEP in 2018, including for trans people. However, few data exist on PrEP awareness or sexual negotiation among trans populations to guide implementation. We present the first Aotearoa data on trans people's ability to negotiate barrier protection and awareness of PrEP efficacy and availability. METHODS: We used data from a large, diverse community-based nationwide survey of trans (including non-binary) people in Aotearoa: Counting Ourselves (N = 1178) conducted from 21 June to 30 September 2018. Generalized regression analyses were carried out among participants who have had sex (n = 704; Mage = 32.5) to identify associations between demographic factors (age, gender and sexual attraction, ethnicity, income, education qualification and current sex work involvement) and the Trans-Specific Barrier Negotiation Self-Efficacy (T-Barrier) Scale and PrEP awareness. RESULTS: The mean value of a 40-point T-Barrier Scale was 33.45 (SD: 6.89), suggesting a relatively high perceived ability among our participants to negotiate protective barrier usages in different situations. Asian participants scored 3.46 points lower compared to Pākehā (White) participants, and trans women attracted to men (cisgender and/or trans men) scored 2.40 points higher than trans women not attracted to men. Three-fifths (59.7%) were aware that PrEP reduced HIV risks and did not prevent sexually transmitted infections (STI) transmission, and only two-fifths (40.2%) knew PrEP was publicly funded for trans people. In multivariate models, we found participants who were older, trans women or those with lower education qualifications were less likely to have increased levels of PrEP awareness. CONCLUSIONS: Participants attracted to men have a higher potential need for PrEP and were more likely to report PrEP awareness and that they could negotiate protective barrier usage. However, trans women and those with lower educational qualifications reported lower levels of PrEP awareness. More trans-competent sexual health education, drawing on the newly released PrEP guidelines, is needed to promote the benefits of PrEP in the Aotearoa HIV epidemic context, particularly for trans women.
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Published in the Journal of the International AIDS Society. Licensed under a CC BY 4.0 licence. ©2022 The Authors.