The study uses animal experiments. Researchers give male monkeys feminizing hormone therapy to investigate whether female hormones make the immune system more vulnerable to HIV infection, according to NIH.
The agency also awarded $272,626 for fiscal year 2021 for a project with the same name to Sripps Research, for a total of $478,188 in taxpayer dollars spent to give monkeys transgender hormones and see what happens.
A scientist with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals blasted the study as "yet another pointless, wasteful monkey torture experiment."
"It's just bad science to suggest that dosing monkeys with feminizing medication makes them good stand-ins for humans," PETA neuroscientist Dr. Katherine Roe told the Free Beacon. "This study will not help to prevent or treat HIV and will not help transgender women.
She said the study is ineffective because primates cannot get infected with HIV. They contract a milder form of the disease called simian immunodeficiency Virus.
Scripps Florida told the Free Beacon that testing "sub-populations" is important for discovering treatments for deadly diseases.
"The research you reference concerns a sub-population of people at greater risk of HIV infection, and factors that may or may not affect their response to a treatment/preventative approach in development," a spokeswoman said. "It is through these types of targeted research studies that substantive progress against HIV, cancer, ALS, dementia—indeed most diseases and conditions—will be made."
NIAID did not answer the news outlet's questions about the study.
The Free Beacon observes that NIAID has approved millions of taxpayer dollars for studies researching HIV transmission in transgender people, who are 49 times more likely to get HIV than non-transgender people.
The agency has previously come under fire from animal rights activists and lawmakers in both parties for abusive experiments performed on animals. In August, it was reported that NIAID handed a $424,455 grant to the University of Georgia Research Foundation in September 2020 to test an experimental drug on beagles. Dozens of healthy dogs were subjected to biting flies that carried a disease-causing parasite that can infect humans, expressing "vocalized pain" as the scientists permitted the dogs to be bitten and infected. They were later "euthanized for blood collection."