Date of Conferral





Health Services


Kimberly Dixon-Lawson


Human ImmunodeficiencyVirus (HIV) continues to be a public health concern in the United States, with increased rates of infection among transgender youth. The phenomenon of homelessness is also a significant challenge for transgender youth. Gender expression often results in stigma, and discrimination, many trans youth experience poverty, rejection, and low self-esteem, which are precursors to homelessness. The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to explore the influence that homelessness has on sexual risk associated behaviors in transgender youth. The theoretical framework that guided this study was Bandura’s social cognitive theory. The research questions sought to explore how this population perceived their risk of contracting HIV. A qualitative research design with a phenomenological approach, was used to capture their lived experiences through in-depth interviews. Study participants included 10 homeless transgender youth. Data was organized using NVivo 12 software, upon data analysis 8 themes emerged: (a) knowledge of HIV, (b) risk factors, (c) experiences with homelessness, (d) challenges, (e) social network, (f) personal and cultural beliefs, (g) access to healthcare, and (h) services. Results of the study provided insight about the factors that influence the adherence and non-adherence of prevention methods. Exploring the impact of homelessness on HIV risk has implications for positive social change as results of this study could decrease housing disparities, which can further decrease risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Decreasing survival sex work, increasing adherence to prevention methods, and increasing safe housing options are all critical to influence behavior change for transgender youth.