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“She is Like a Sister to Me.” Gender-Affirming Services and Relationships are Key to the Implementation of HIV Care Engagement Interventions with Transgender Women of Color


We present findings from qualitative interviews (N = 67) with 36 staff and 31 participants of nine distinct individual and/or group level interventions to engage transgender women of color (TWOC) in HIV care in the U.S. We examine the commonalities amongst the intervention services (addressing unmet basic needs, facilitating engagement in HIV care, health system navigation, improving health literacy, emotional support), and the relationships formed during implementation of the interventions (between interventionists and participants, among participants in intervention groups, between participants and peers in the community). Interventionists, often TWOC themselves, who provided these services developed caring relationships, promoted personal empowerment, and became role models for participants and the community. Intervention groups engaged participants to reinforce the importance of health and HIV care and provided mutual support. Gender affirming services and caring relationships may be two key characteristics of interventions that address individual and structural-level barriers to engage TWOC in HIV care.

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