Mentored Scientist Award

Addressing Health Disparities Among Transgender Women in the Middle East

Headshot of Rachel Kaplan, PhD, MPH
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Award amount - Direct


HIV risk and mental health morbidity are high among transgender women in Lebanon. We culturally adapted and pilot-tested an existing intervention in the Lebanese context. ‘Baynetna’ (Arabic for “between us” and a play on the word for “girls”) shows great promise to impact HIV risk and mental health through the model of Gender Affirmation for increasing community connectedness via trans-facilitated small group support. In order to successfully compete for R01 funding to conduct an efficacy randomized controlled trial, I propose to enhance and finalize Baynetna by adding content focused on: (1) the importance of HIV testing, barriers and facilitators to testing, engagement in care following a positive test result, and testing information specific to the Lebanese and trans context and culture, and (2) specifically addressing developing resilience in the context of protracted political violence and war event exposure. Outcomes will have the potential to leverage the necessary preliminary studies data necessary to secure R01 funding for a full RCT. Full RCT results will have the potential to dramatically affect HIV prevention and the mental health of this vulnerable population, and will inform efforts to improve the health of trans women throughout the Middle East and other countries affected by conflict.