LGBTQ South Florida

FIU medical school studies why transgender women are at high risk for HIV

A client takes an HIV blood test inside a mobile clinic in Miami.
A client takes an HIV blood test inside a mobile clinic in Miami. / file

Florida International University’s medical school has launched a study of why transgender women are among the highest risk groups for HIV infection.

FIU News on Tuesday published an article, Researchers to study HIV risk factors in transgender community, written by Ileana Varela, associate director for marketing and public relations at FIU’s Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine.

HIV studies of trans women have been done in New York and San Francisco, but none in South Florida, according to Hector Perez-Gilbe, an instructor in the Department of Medicine, Family Medicine and Community Health.

“We deal more with Latin American and Caribbean people. We want to see if the cultural, regional and socio-economic differences result in risk factors that are different from factors in other areas around the country,” Perez-Silbe told Varela.

Perez-Silbe will co-investigate the South Florida study, including workshops for trans women in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. The study will be done through a grant from the Miami Foundation, along with partnerships with Latinos Salud, Care Resource, Trans Miami and T-House.

From Varela’s article:

The educational portion of the workshops will be divided into three sections:

▪ Prevention through negotiation. Due to stigma and discrimination, many transgender women end up as sex workers and have little say in a sexual relationship. They will learn how to negotiate with their sexual partner.

▪ Prevention through medication. Participants will learn about currently available pre-exposure prophylaxis drugs to prevent HIV and where to find them.

▪ Communicating with their health care provider. Transgender women have special health needs. Attendees will learn how to address these with their doctor and access safety net health care facilities offering free services in our area.

The workshops will be held in Little Havana, Wilton Manors and Liberty City throughout the month of November, which is Transgender Awareness Month.

To learn more

For more information, including times and locations, contact Hector Perez-Gilbe at or at 305-348-0680.