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Saturday, March 7 • 10:45am - 12:00pm
Women of Color Psychologies Award: Adolescent Gender-related Abuse, Androphilia, and HIV Risk Among Transfeminine People of Color in New York City

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Introduction: Public health research has indicated extremely high HIV
seroprevalence (13-63%) among low-income transfeminine (MTF) people of color
of African, Latina, and Asian descent living in the U.S. Much of the high HIV
seroprevalence has been attributed to participation in survival sex work and
infection from primary male partners. Public health discourse has also often focused
on health behavior change without understanding cultural contexts. In addition,
negative mental health outcomes as comorbidities of HIV have also not been greatly
Methods: This paper combines two data sets. One set is based on an 18-month
(2005-06) ethnographic study of HIV risk among MTF communities in NYC (N=50,
120 hours of participant observation). The other set is a five-year (2004-09)
National Institutes of Health-funded longitudinal quantitative study examining MTF
people in NYC (baseline N=600, N=275 followed for 3 years).
Results and Discussion: Transfeminine people of color are much more likely to be
androphilic and at high HIV risk than white transfeminine people. Depression is
high among all transfeminine people, but for transfeminine people of color,
depression is strongly correlated with gender-related abuse experienced as
adolescents. Depression may be one of several effects resulting from trauma
experienced during adolescence; subsequent adolescent and adult revictimization
may manifest as “trauma-impacted androphilia” in primary non-commercial
relationships. A greater understanding of adolescent gender-related abuse and
trauma-impacted androphilia among transfeminine people of color may be essential
for more efficacious HIV prevention, and this understanding contributes towards a
holistic conceptual model of HIV risk.

avatar for Sel J. Hwahng

Sel J. Hwahng

Co-Investigator, Mount Sinai Beth Israel
LGBT public health research, HIV research, drug use research, social and behavioral sciences, intersectionality, resiliency, women of color, social justice, vectors of oppression

Saturday March 7, 2015 10:45am - 12:00pm PST