The National Institutes of Health is spending over $600,000 to use GPS tracking on transgender women of color in New York City.
The study, being conducted by New York University, is tracking transwomen on and off for two years to "know the travel patterns" of transwomen to mobilize HIV prevention efforts.
"This project seeks to use real-time geospatial methods to investigate relationships between social cohesion and social capital within Global Positioning System (GPS)-defined activity space neighborhoods and social networks in relation to HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) uptake and adherence cross-sectionally and longitudinally among transgender women (TW) of color (TWOC) in the New York City metropolitan statistical area (MSA) followed over two years," according to the grant for the project.
The study is recruiting New Yorkers who identify as transgender women, which the grant defines as "individuals who were assigned a male sex at birth who identify as women, female, trans women, trans female, male-to-female or another diverse trans feminine gender identity on the spectrum."
Study subjects must also be between 18 and 55 years old, have no plans to move away from New York City within the next two years, and be willing to "carry a small GPS device for two-weeks at five points over the course of two years."
The researchers will use GPS tracking to measure transwomen's "social networks" in order to try to influence them to take HIV prevention measures.
"The proposed study will be the largest GPS study of HIV disparities in any transgender population and presents a remarkable opportunity to study environmental influences on HIV," the grant states. "[F]rom the GPS dataset we will know the travel patterns of [transwomen] TW and therefore be able to identify optimal geographic locations for HIV prevention interventions."
The study began this fall and has cost taxpayers $620,133 so far. Research will continue through April 2023.