HIV care continuum among cisgender and transgender women sex workers in Greater Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Yerina S. Ranjit, Britton A. Gibson, Frederick L. Altice, Adeeba Kamarulzaman, Iskandar Azwa, Jeffrey A. Wickersham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


An estimated 37,000 cisgender and transgender women work as sex workers in Malaysia, a population that has been disproportionately affected by the HIV epidemic. Although Malaysia provides no-cost antiretroviral therapy (ART) to people with HIV, little is known about sex workers’ engagement in the HIV care continuum. We analyzed data from 57 HIV-infected cisgender women (n = 33) and transgender women (n = 24) sex workers from a respondent-driven sampling study on HIV prevalence among sex workers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. We examined the proportion of women who were newly diagnosed with HIV, had a baseline CD-4 count test, were initiated and retained on antiretroviral treatment (ART). Overall, only 26.3% had ever been HIV tested and almost 60% were newly diagnosed. Only a small proportion of cisgender (15.2%) and transgender (12.5%) women were currently taking ART. Interventions to enhance sex workers’ engagement in the HIV care continuum are urgently needed. Deployment of evidence-based strategies to improve linkage and retention in HIV care should be adapted to address the unique needs of this important key population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)784-790
Number of pages7
JournalAIDS Care - Psychological and Socio-Medical Aspects of AIDS/HIV
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Cisgender sex workers
  • HIV care continuum
  • Malaysia
  • transgender sex workers

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