Transgender Individuals See Improvements in HIV Outcomes

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CD4 counts are an indication of immune system function, with a higher CD4 count indicating better health. A normal CD4 count ranges from 500-1500. When someone with HIV has a CD4 count of less than 200, they are diagnosed with AIDS.

Researchers at the Division of Disease Control in New York City used HIV surveillance data to assess the CD4 counts of cisgender and transgender people living with HIV. The graph above compares the percentages of HIV-positive cisgender women, cisgender men, and transgender people with CD4 counts above 500 in between 2007 and 2016.

The percentage of HIV-positive cisgender people who had a CD4 count higher than 500 increased from 38% in 2007 to 61%. Among transgender people with HIV, CD4 counts over 500 increased from 32% to 60% in the same time frame, narrowing the gap between the two populations.

Several factors may have played a role in these CD4 count improvements. Greater insurance coverage of antiretroviral medications may have increased access to life-saving treatment, and decreasing stigma in health care settings could have lead to greater adherence to treatment among transgender persons.

Design: David Gaitsgory @dgaitsgo. Source: “Reduction in Gaps in High CD4 Count and Viral Suppression Between Transgender and Cisgender Persons Living With HIV in New York City, 2007–2016,” by Qiang Xia, Selam Seyoum, Ellen W. Wiewel, Lucia V. Torian, Sarah L. Braunstein, American Journal of Public Health 109, no. 1 (January 1, 2019): pp. 126-131. DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2018.304748

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