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Training public health staff for HIV prevention in transgender communities

Judith Bradford, PhD, Survey & Evaluation Research Laboratory, Virginia Commonwealth University, 921 W. Franklin Street, PO Box 843065, Richmond, VA 23284, 804-828-8813, jbbradfo@vcu.edu, Jessica Xavier, Department of Public and Community Health, University of Maryland, P.O. Box 65, Kensington, MD 20895, Lauretta A. Safford, MSW, Survey and Evaluation Research Laboratory, Virginia Commonwealth University, 921 W. Franklin St., Richmond, VA 23284, and Michael L. Hendricks, PhD, Washington Psychological Center, P.C., 4201 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 602, Washington, DC 20008.

Accurate knowledge of population characteristics is an essential component of public health infrastructure but may be overlooked if the needs of subpopulations are assumed to be similar to those already receiving services. Recognizing that transgender persons encounter unique risks for HIV infection and suffer higher prevalence rates than others, the Virginia HIV Community Planning Committee, Virginia Department of Health, and the Survey and Evaluation Research Laboratory in 2003 embarked on a multi-year initiative to study and respond to HIV prevention-related needs of Virginia's transgender communities. The first phase consisted of a two-day training institute for public health workers and representatives of community-based organizations providing services to transgender individuals. 87 individuals received training on access to regular medical services and to transgender care services, employment and housing discrimination experienced by transgenders, exposure of transgender persons to violence, substance abuse, and loss of self-esteem, HIV knowledge and perception of risk, HIV testing, and access to HIV/AIDS treatment services. Pre-test and immediate post-test evaluation was conducted during the institute. A majority of participants reported increased comfort at immediate post-test in explaining to someone else what transgender means and in providing services to transgender persons. A minority reported that their agencies were offering targeted services for transgender persons, although most agreed that educational programs and a range of services were needed. Substantial proportions did not know the answers to half of the questions on a basic knowledge test. 3 months follow-up evaluation in March 2004 will assess the longer term impact of the training.

Learning Objectives: Participants in this session will be able to

Keywords: HIV/AIDS, Public Health Infrastructure

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Transgender Health

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA