Improving Health Care for Transgender Youth

The Challenge

Young transgender women face startlingly high rates of HIV. They are fifty times more likely to contract the disease compared with the average adult, and as many as one in four young transgender women of color are infected with HIV. Compounding vulnerabilities—including a lack of access to stable housing and employment—increase their risk of homelessness, HIV infection, engagement in transactional sex, and incarceration.

For these young people, access to gender-affirming medical care can be critical to their well-being. However, clinicians receive very limited formal training on providing care for LGBT people broadly, and on the unique health needs of transgender youth specifically. This gap frequently deters transgender young people from accessing necessary medical, mental health, and HIV care, leading to poor health and well-being outcomes.

The Project

Through her Stoneleigh Fellowship, Dr. Nadia Dowshen partnered with PolicyLab at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to strengthen clinicians’ and health care institutions’ knowledge and capacity to provide better care for transgender youth. Nadia also led an action-oriented research project to assess the quality of care  being provided to young transgender women of color at HIV/STI testing sites, with the broader aims of driving practice and policy change.

The Stoneleigh Fellowship enabled Nadia to:

  • Adapt an innovative youth-driven research method to assess the quality, accessibility, and cultural competency of HIV prevention and treatment services for transgender youth.
  • Improve clinician and organizational practice at HIV/STI testing sites in Philadelphia using targeted technical assistance and training designed to address identified barriers and to strengthen gender-affirming care.
  • Help drive systems change at the local, state, and national levels by partnering with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, the Pennsylvania Department of Health, and various national organizations.

Nadia Dowshen, MD, MSHP

Stoneleigh Fellow


PolicyLab at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Current Position

Pediatrician and Adolescent Medicine Specialist
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia


Project Updates