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Safer sex: Study examines sexual communication in transgender community
Date:6/2/2011

A new study from North Carolina State University shows that talking about safer sex is a complicated process for individuals in the transgender community. The finding may help efforts to promote safer sex practices in a community facing high HIV rates and also sheds light on broader questions related to safer sex for everyone.

"The main reason for this study is the fact that we're seeing evidence of devastatingly high HIV prevalence rates in the transgender community," says Dr. Kami Kosenko, an assistant professor of communication at NC State and lead author of the study. "The HIV prevalence rate is less than 1 percent for the general U.S. population. But for the transgender population, the HIV prevalence rate is estimated to be as high as 60 percent in major metropolitan areas. Although these are only estimates, they are troubling."

The term transgender is used to refer to people who are uncomfortable with their assigned gender identity, including individuals who establish a gender identity that does not comply with traditional gender roles. For example, the term often applies to individuals whose gender presentation differs from their biological sex.

These high HIV prevalence rates have led to efforts from researchers, public-health officials and others to help the transgender community do a better job of communicating about safer sex practices. Kosenko's research stems from "a need to better understand how transgender individuals talk about sex, to make sure that safer sex educational efforts targeting this community are effective."

Kosenko notes that research on sexual communication in general is fairly limited. Historically, sex communication research has defined safer sex discussions as one of two things: finding out about a partner's sexual history; or trying to persuade a partner to use a condom.

What Kosenko found is that communication about safer sex, at least in the transgender community, is far more comp
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Contact: Matt Shipman
matt_shipman@ncsu.edu
919-515-6386
North Carolina State University
Source:Eurekalert

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