Importance: Nonmedical prescription opioid use is a pressing public health issue in the United States. Transgender youth, including adolescent girls and young women who were assigned male at birth and currently identify as women, female, transgender women, or another diverse gender identity along the transfeminine gender spectrum, are more likely than their cisgender peers to report illicit substance use and meet diagnostic criteria for substance use disorders. However, relatively little is known about the experiences of these populations in the current era of opioid addiction and misuse. Objective: To report the prevalence of and risk factors associated with lifetime nonmedical prescription opioid use in a high-risk community sample of transgender adolescent girls and young women who are sexually active. Design, Setting, and Participants: This cross-sectional study used 2012 to 2015 baseline data from Project LifeSkills, a randomized clinical trial of a behavioral intervention to reduce the risk of HIV acquisition and transmission among a diverse sample of transgender adolescent girls and young women recruited from Boston, Massachusetts, and Chicago, Illinois. A total of 297 transgender girls and women aged 16 to 29 years who were sexually active were included in this analysis. Data were analyzed from June 2019 to August 2019. Exposures: Transgender woman identification. Main Outcomes and Measures: Self-reported lifetime nonmedical prescription opioid use. Results: Among 297 transgender adolescent girls and young women (mean [SD] age, 23.4 [3.5] years), 145 (48.8%) identified as non-Hispanic/Latinx black, 76 (25.6%) identified as non-Hispanic/Latinx white, 37 (12.5%) identified as Hispanic/Latinx, 7 (2.4%) identified as non-Hispanic/Latinx Asian, and 32 (10.8%) identified as multiracial or other race/ethnicity. Thirty-five participants (11.8%) reported lifetime nonmedical prescription opioid use. Young transgender women who smoked cigarettes monthly or less (adjusted odds ratio, 3.92; 95% CI, 1.10-13.89) and who smoked daily (adjusted odds ratio, 5.69; 95% CI, 1.87-17.33) had greater odds of nonmedical prescription opioid use compared with those who did not smoke. Additionally, participants who identified as a sexual orientation other than heterosexual, gay, lesbian, or bisexual had significantly greater odds of lifetime nonmedical prescription opioid use compared with those who identified as heterosexual (adjusted odds ratio, 3.69; 95% CI, 1.07-12.72). Conclusions and Relevance: These findings suggest that transgender adolescent girls and young women have similar prevalence of lifetime nonmedical prescription opioid use compared with the US general population prevalence of 12.5%. These findings may serve as a call-to-action for public health surveillance studies and evidence-based interventions to be comprehensively tailored to examine and respond to specific trends of substance use, particularly opioid use disorder, among transgender populations.
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