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Men with mental health issues more at risk of HIV

Naith Payton January 15, 2015
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A study reports that gay and bisexual men are more at risk of contracting HIV if they have mental health problems.

Past studies have shown that gay men with HIV were more likely to have mental health issues, but not whether poor mental health was a factor in how likely someone was to contract HIV. Over 4000 gay and bisexual men in the US were studied over a number of years. They were all HIV negative to begin with.

They were asked about mental health in relation to drug and alcohol use, depression and exposure to childhood sexual violence. The men were then tested for HIV every six months and asked about sexual behavior.

The study found that those with mental health issues were more likely to become HIV positive, and the more mental health problems a person had, the more likely they were.

Men were also more likely to engage in high-risk sexual behaviors such as unprotected anal sex if they had more mental health issues.

Study leader Matthew Mimiaga told Reuters: “We need to think about the fact that men who have sex with men in the US have a high prevalence of these syndemic factors which for the most part get in the way of traditional HIV messaging or traditional HIV interventions.

“These factors are driving a lot of the risk and really need to be addressed in a comprehensive approach.”

Related topics: AIDS, Bisexual men, gay men, HIV, mental health, US

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