Gay and bisexual men with a history of physical abuse, drug use, and depression could be more vulnerable to HIV infection, according to a study in the June edition of the American Journal of Public Health. "The interconnection of these problems functions to magnify the effects of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in this population," Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researcher Ron Stall told the Health Behavior News Service.
CDC researchers collected information on health problems such as physical and sexual abuse, depression, and drug use from 2,881 men in New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Chicago who identified as either gay or bisexual. Men who used drugs or were physically abused by their partners were found to be more likely to be HIV-positive. Men who were sexually abused as children were more likely to engage in high-risk sex, putting them at increased risk for HIV infection. The more psychosocial health problems the men had, the more likely they were to be infected with HIV and to practice high-risk sexual behaviors, according to the study.
The study calls for more programs that address drug use, depression, physical and sexual abuse, and other mental health issues among gay and bisexual men to help lower their risk of HIV infection.