Studies show individuals who experience mental traumas from homophobia, racism and depression are more likely to engage in risky behavior that could lead to HIV infections
Mental stress from poverty and discrimination can contribute to HIV among gay men, a new study reveals.
The findings, published in the journal AIDS and Behavior, revealed a relationship between mental trauma, drug abuse and risky sexual behavior.
‘The more burden these men face for being persons of color, economically disadvantaged, homosexual, foreign born, and simply discriminated against, impact their mental health,’ said director of the study Perry Halkitis.
‘Our additional analysis found that foreign-born men of lower socioeconomic status demonstrate a greater likelihood of unprotected sex.
The study is part of Project-18, a larger research effort that follows an ethnically and economically diverse group of 600 HIV negative young gay men in New York City. The participants are self-identified men who have sex with men and are monitored over the course of three years.
‘Through this study, what we’ve done is shown that these health problems – mental health burdens and risky behavior — are highly related when it comes to this population of gay men and their contraction of HIV’, added Hlkitis, who is also the director of the Center of Health, Identity, Behavior and Prevention Studies at NYU Steinhardt.
According to the study: ‘Gay and bisexual men represent only 2% of the population, yet these and other men who have sex with men account for more than 50% of all HIV infections and new infections in the US’.
The study suggests that HIV prevention and care must be delivered ‘holistically’ such that sexual risk behaviors are addressed in relation to the mental health of the individual.