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23.06.2018 | Original Paper

“Unspoken Agreements”: Perceived Acceptability of Couples HIV Testing and Counseling (CHTC) Among Cisgender Men with Transgender Women Partners

AIDS and Behavior
Sari L. Reisner, David Menino, Kingsley Leung, Kristi E. Gamarel


Transgender women (TW) are one of the highest risk groups for HIV infection globally; however, the HIV testing needs of their cisgender (non-transgender) male partners remain largely unknown. This study sought to examine the perceived acceptability of couples HIV testing and counseling (CHTC) for TW-male dyads from the perspective of cisgender men who partner with TW. Between September 2016 and June 2017, 19 cisgender men (mean age = 40.1, SD = 12.8) who currently have, or have ever had a TW partner completed an in-depth semi-structured phone interview and brief survey to gather data on acceptability of CHTC, as well as perceived barriers and facilitators to CHTC for TW-male couples. Qualitative data were thematically analyzed and integrated with survey data. Acceptability of CHTC was high in the sample (89.5%) but was complex and largely contingent on: (1) monogamy and commitment as critical precursors to CHTC acceptability; (2) risk perception and level of comfort with CHTC; (3) understandings of sexual agreements; and (4) personal relationships versus other TW-male relationships. Findings have implications for culturally-adapting and implementing CHTC in real-world settings for TW-male couples, as well as for meeting the individual HIV testing needs of cisgender men who partner with TW.

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