This study describes a sample of HIV+ young transgender women of color aged 18-24 and their experience with homelessness as part of a demonstration project of engagement and retention in HIV medical care funded by Health Resources and Services Administration. The study engaged transgender women of color in HIV care in nine sites across the US between 2012 and 2017. This analysis describes and compares transwomen who had been homeless in the last 6 months to those not homeless. We hypothesized that homelessness would compete with HIV care, food, shelter, and be associated with poverty. Variable domains included sociodemographic, mental health and substance use, HIV care, sexual risk behavior, social support from transgender and other friends, and childhood sexual abuse. There were 102 youth enrolled, 77 (75.5%) who had been homeless, and 25 (24.5%) who had not been homeless. Bivariate analyses showed that low income, sex work as source of income, inability to afford food, lack of viral load (VL) suppression, childhood sexual abuse, lower levels of social support, and higher levels of depression were associated with homelessness. A logistic regression model showed that being unable to afford food (AOR = 9.24, 95% CI 2.13-40.16), lack of VL suppression in last 6 months (AOR = 0.10, 95% CI .02-.57), and lack of transgender friend support (AOR = 0.09, 95% CI .02-.53) was associated with homelessness. Programs that place basic needs first-food and shelter-may be able to engage and assist young transgender women of color with HIV to survive and live healthier lives.
Young transgender women of color: Homelessness, poverty, childhood sexual abuse and implications for HIV care