HIV has many allies, collaborators and accomplices, which include denial, poverty, stigma, and the “it can’t happen to me” syndrome. And,homophobia is a member of that club—and a dominant one at that.
According to Poz.com, the leading and renowned news site dedicated to HIV news and prevention, “Homophobic attitudes and laws in European nations keep men who have sex with men (MSM) from accessing HIV-prevention services and from discussing their sexuality with health care providers.”
The media outlet continued, “Publishing their findings in the journal AIDS, researchers examined data from the European MSM Internet Survey,which includes HIV-related information about 174,000 gay and bisexual men in 35 European countries. They compared this data with various countrywide laws, policies and attitudes toward homosexuality.”
So, what did the investigators uncover? “The researchers found that higher levels of homophobia in a nation was linked with lower HIV knowledge among gay and bi men, and that the men in these countries were also less likely to use condoms.”
Let’s examine HIV risk. This recent study concluded that personal responsibility actually was trumped and overshadowed by another factor—which is insidious and deeply ingrained. John Pachankis, PhD, an associate professor of epidemiology at Yale University, stated the following: “’Our findings suggest that rather than primarily being the result of personal failure, HIV risk is largely determined by national laws, policies, and attitudes toward homosexuality. This study shows that gay and bisexual men in homophobic countries are denied the resources, including psychological resources like open self-expression, that are necessary to stay healthy’.”
Sobering news, indeed.
Another significant finding of the study was that MSM living in nations with marked homophobia have fewer sexual partners—and therefore are less likely to have HIV. “The investigators concluded that this was a consequence of the men being more likely to stay in the closet due to an inhospitable environment.”
Oh, yes. HIV can definitely depend upon homophobia for a huge assist in getting its job done.