case study

HIV Prevention Toolkit for Transgender Women of Color

We collaborated with transgender women of color and community organizations to improve HIV services nationwide

Client: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

The Issue

Transgender women of color (WOC) experience disproportionately high HIV rates. HIV outcomes for transgender WOC are heavily impacted by social determinants of health, structural discrimination, and stigma.

We received a CDC contract to create a technical assistance toolkit to help organizations provide affirming, high-quality HIV prevention services for transgender WOC.

The Outcomes

We collaborated with nine HIV service organizations across the U.S., and engaged a diverse group of transgender WOC writers and experts to develop the toolkit.

Partnering with transgender women and soliciting input from a broad range of stakeholders resulted in a user-friendly toolkit that holistically supports the health and well-being of transgender WOC.

The toolkit is available from CDC free of charge, with versions in English and Spanish.


Toolkit for Providing HIV Prevention Services to Transgender Women of Color. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2019

Meeting the Needs of Transgender Women of Color

While HIV infections in the U.S. have generally stabilized in recent years, African-American and Latinx transgender women remain at very high risk of infection. HIV prevention and care services designed for other populations, such as men who have sex with men, do not adequately address the needs of transgender WOC.

Sentient Research received a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) contract to create a comprehensive toolkit that supports organizations in providing high-quality HIV services to transgender WOC. Along with JoAnne Keatley, MSW, a leading civil society expert in transgender women’s health, we created the toolkit using a very collaborative and iterative process.

Collaborative Toolkit Development

We began the toolkit development process by conducting two-day site visits at nine community-based organizations (CBOs) that serve transgender WOC across the country. We created an online survey for CBOs to collect basic information about their organization and clients prior to the visit, and developed a structured interview guide for staff at the executive, program, and front-line levels. During site visits, Sentient Research staff and JoAnne Keatley interviewed staff regarding challenges, best practices, and technical assistance needs for providing services for transgender WOC. We created individual site reports and a comprehensive needs assessment report, which informed the toolkit content.

This toolkit is long overdue. It has so much clarity and really gives a framework to organizations aiming to work with transgender populations. Amazing work! – transgender WOC review team member

Writing the toolkit draft was a highly collaborative process. In addition to Sentient Research staff and JoAnne Keatley, we engaged subject matter experts and additional writers, several of whom are transgender WOC who work in HIV prevention. Once the first draft was complete, we engaged a review team of six transgender WOC stakeholders from across the country who work in HIV prevention and advocate for transgender women’s health. This team provided ongoing reviews of all topics, and their feedback was integrated into the toolkit. Team members also contributed content that they felt was inadequately covered, such as transgender resilience and wellness. By the end of the review process, all members of the review team expressed high levels of satisfaction with the toolkit and felt it would help CBOs provide better HIV services for transgender WOC.

This is going to be something spectacular and a very powerful thing for community-based organizations to have. – transgender WOC review team member

Toolkit Elements and Target Audience

Topics include:

  • Assessing Community Needs
  • Providing Client-Centered Care and Services
  • Hiring and Supporting Transgender WOC
  • Creating Transgender-Affirming Environments
  • Developing Outreach, Recruitment, and Retention Systems and Services
  • Implementing Evidence-Based Interventions and Homegrown Programs
  • Conducting Program Evaluation and Improvement
  • Engaging Transgender WOC in HIV Prevention and Testing
  • Providing Primary Care (Including HIV Care) to Transgender WOC
  • Addressing Mental and Behavioral Health Needs of Transgender WOC
  • Building Community Partnerships and Referrals

The intended audience for this toolkit is staff at CBOs, health departments, clinics, and other organizations that currently
 provide, or are planning to provide, HIV services for transgender WOC. The toolkit was created to be used by staff at all levels of an organization, including those at the executive level, program managers, clinicians, and frontline staff such as those working in HIV testing, linkage, outreach, and social service programs. The toolkit is available in English and Spanish.