Reaching transgender populations in Zambia for HIV prevention and linkage to treatment using community-based service delivery.
Malunga, Sibusiso Mimi
Stafford, Kristen A
Claassen, Cassidy W
JournalJournal of the International AIDS Society
MetadataShow full item record
AbstractIntroduction: Transgender and gender-diverse communities in Zambia are highly vulnerable and experience healthcare differently than cisgender persons. The University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) supports projects in Zambia to improve HIV case-finding, linkage and antiretroviral treatment (ART) for Zambia's transgender community. We describe programme strategies and outcomes for HIV prevention, testing and ART linkage among transgender communities. Methods: UMB utilizes a differentiated service delivery model whereby community health workers (CHWs) recruited from key populations (KPs) reach community members through a peer-to-peer approach, with the support of local transgender civil society organizations (CSOs) and community gatekeepers. Peer CHWs are trained and certified as HIV testers and psychosocial counsellors to offer counselling with HIV testing and prevention services in identified safe spaces. HIV-negative people at risk of HIV infection are offered pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), while those who test positive for HIV are linked to ART services. CHWs collect data using the standardized facility and community tools and a dedicated DHIS2 database system. We conducted a descriptive analysis examining HIV testing and prevention outcomes using proportions and comparisons by time period and geographic strata. Results: From October 2020 to June 2021, across Eastern, Lusaka, Western and Southern Provinces, 1860 transgender persons were reached with HIV prevention messages and services. Of these, 424 (23%) were tested for HIV and 78 (18%) tested positive. Of the 346 HIV-negative persons, 268 (78%) eligible transgender individuals were initiated on PrEP. ART linkage was 97%, with 76 out of the 78 transgender individuals living with HIV initiating treatment. Programme strategies that supported testing and linkage included peer CHWs, social network strategy testing, same-day ART initiation and local KP CSO support. Challenges included non-transgender-friendly environments, stigma and discrimination, the high transiency of the transgender community and the non-availability of transgender-specific health services, such as hormonal therapy. Conclusions: Peer KP CHWs were able to reach many members of the transgender community, providing safe HIV testing, PrEP services and linkage to care. Focusing on community gatekeepers and CSOs to disburse health messages and employ welcoming strategies supported high linkage to both PrEP and ART for transgender people in Zambia.
Rights/Terms© 2022 The Authors. Journal of the International AIDS Society published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of the International AIDS Society.
Identifier to cite or link to this itemhttp://hdl.handle.net/10713/20003
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