Background : The current study sought to examine factors that promote psychological resilience related to engagement in the HIV continuum of care (CoC) among trans-feminine adolescents and emerging adults (TF AEA) living with HIV in the U.S. using a qualitative approach.
Methods : The parent study from which these data came utilized a concurrent transformative mixed-methods research design grounded in Gender Affirmation and Gender Minority Stress Theory that focused on advancing our understanding of transgender youth’s experiences with health care generally and their experiences across the HIV CoC. Semi-structured in-depth qualitative interviews with 66 TF AEA living with HIV were analyzed using a two-stage interpretive phenomenological analytic approach that allowed for both inductive and deductive explorations of the data.
Results : When discussing health-promoting psychological resilience factors, participants described both interpersonal resources (i.e., support or assistance via interactions with others) and intrapersonal assets (i.e., positive internal cognitive processes) that encouraged their engagement in the HIV continuum of care. The interpersonal resources described by participants included three main types of support: emotional support, gender support, and instrumental-informational support. Three thematic categories describe the intrapersonal assets that participants discussed: health awareness and HIV acceptance; health motivation and health responsibility; and psychological well-being and inner strength.
Conclusions : Despite experiences of HIV-related stigma and transphobia, TF AEA living with HIV demonstrate psychological resilience as they navigate engagement in the HIV CoC. Results highlight possibilities for implementing public health interventions at individual, community, and systems levels to bolster resilience among TF AEA living with HIV.