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Transphobia creating barriers to sexual health testing: study

Trans people are facing transphobia and cissexism that could stop them from trying to access sexual health services, new research shows.

The Australian Trans & Gender Diverse Sexual Health Survey has found that almost three quarters of trans people have encountered insensitivity about their gender on at least two occasions while accessing sexual health care.

The survey examined the experiences of more than 1,600 trans and gender diverse people.

Transphobia was most commonly reported as occurring in hospitals, followed by GP clinics.

The negative experiences were reported against a backdrop of most health workers being “ill-prepared to engage meaningfully with the needs of trans patients”.

Experiencing transphobia was associated with a lower likelihood of individuals engaging with the necessary sexual health care services.

Similarly, trans and other LGBTIQ people with cervixes have separately been found to avoid cervical HPV screening, which is necessary to detect and prevent cancers.

“Given the high rates of HIV and other STIs among trans and gender diverse people in Australia and overseas, eliminating cisgenderism and transphobia in sexual health care may help improve access to diagnostic testing to reduce infection rates and support the overall sexual health and wellbeing of these populations,” the authors reported.

Regular sexual health screening is important for all sexually active people, including trans people, who may be at greater risk.

The report noted that one Australian study found HIV among 3.5% of trans men attending sexual health clinics and 5.7% of trans women, compared to 1.2% among cis people.

Led by researchers from several Australian universities, the study is the first national investigation of trans sexual health and wellbeing in the country.

“As diagnostic testing remains a cornerstone of HIV and STI prevention and management strategies in Australia and globally, attention to reducing cisgenderism and transphobia in sexual health care is essential,” the authors said.

If you need a trans-friendly clinic, you can contact your local HIV and sexual health organisation for information.

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