Study Links Homophobia To AIDS

July 7, 2008 - 7:02 PM

( - The federal Centers for Disease Control has linked homophobia to an increased risk of infection by HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, according to a recent CDC report on AIDS among minority men.

The agency's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report for January 14, 2000, entitled HIV/AIDS Among Racial/Ethnic Minority Men Who Have Sex with Men -- United States, 1989-1998, lists homophobia among several "social and economic factors associated with high rates of HIV risk behavior."

Homophobia is defined in Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary as an "irrational fear of homosexuality or homosexuals," and is classified as a risk factor for AIDS along with poverty, high unemployment and poor access to health care services.

"Race/ethnicity itself is not a risk factor for HIV infection; however, among racial/ethnic minority MSM (men who have sex with men), social and economic factors, such as homophobia, high rates of poverty and unemployment, and lack of access to health care, are associated with high rates of HIV risk behavior," reads the CDC report.

The report cites the work of JP Stokes and JL Peterson, entitled Homophobia, self-esteem, and risk for HIV among African-American men who have sex with men as attribution for regarding homophobia as a health risk.

The CDC also said MSM remain a high risk for HIV infection, and called for continued efforts to promote behavioral risk reduction among at-risk youth.

Racial/ethnic minority community leaders, according to the CDC, should promote dialogue about sexual orientation issues. The CDC said such action could overcome social barriers to HIV prevention for racial/ethnic minority MSM especially among young men.

When contacted by a spokesperson for the CDC said they had no further comment on the report.