An intersection worth a closer look: Transgender women living with HIV who received gender-affirming hormone therapy (GAHT) had significantly higher rates of sustained viral suppression. This is according to a study that looked at the (possible) link in transgender women’s ARV (antiretroviral medicine) intake while also receiving gender-affirming hormone therapy.
The study – “Effects of Gender-Affirming Hormone Therapy on Progression Along the HIV Care Continuum in Transgender Women” by Nathan A Summers, MD, MSc; Trang T Huynh; Ruth C Dunn; Sara L Cross, MD; and Christian J Fuchs, MD – appeared in Open Forum Infectious Diseases.
For this study, the researchers looked at the records of 59 transgender women living with HIV (from from 1/1/2015 to 12/31/2019), with an average age of 35 y.o., and a median CD4 count of 464 cells/µL. Among the respondents, there were 13 patients on GAHT at study entry and 31 receiving GAHT at any point during the study period.
At study entry, 55% of participants were virally suppressed, according to Nathan A. Summers, MD, MSc, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, and his colleagues. Among those with detectable viral loads, the median viral load was 23,540 copies/mL. Viral load testing at the time of GAHT initiation showed 86% of those patients were virally suppressed.
Over the last four years of the study, the proportion of participants who were virally suppressed was higher in the GAHT cohort: 73% vs. 59%, 64% vs. 57%, 61% vs. 44% and 71% vs. 36% (P = 0.04).
“The importance of achieving and sustaining HIV viral suppression cannot be overstated,” the authors stated. “Achieving viral suppression leads to improved individual health outcomes and reduces transmission to seronegative partners, and as such has become a primary focus of international HIV efforts.”