New York University Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Navigation Skip to Sub Navigation

Mental Health Burdens Contribute to HIV in Gay Men Says NYU Steinhardt Researcher

February 7, 2013
170

Racism, discrimination, homophobia, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) fuel the HIV epidemic among many young black and Latino men, according to a study by Perry Halkitis, director of the Center of Health, Identity, Behavior and Prevention Studies (CHIBPS) at NYU Steinhardt.

Halkitis’ study, “Measurement Model Exploring a Syndemic in Emerging Adult Gay and Bisexual Men,” was published in the February edition of AIDS and Behavior. These are the first major findings of Halkitis’ larger research effort, Project-18, a multi-year research study that follows a racially, ethnically, and economically diverse cohort of approximately 600 urban HIV-negative young men. Participants of Project-18 are self-identified as men who have sex with men (MSM), currently live in New York City, and are monitored every six months for three years as they transition from adolescence into young adulthood.

Studies show that gay, bisexual, and other MSMs account for more than 50 percent of all infections and more than 50 percent of recent HIV infections in the U.S., with some 70 percent in urban centers.

Results from this latest analysis support the notion that mental health, drug use, and unprotected sex are inextricably linked.

“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 Halkitis. “Our additional analysis found that foreign-born men of lower socioeconomic status demonstrate a greater likelihood of unprotected sex.”

Halkitis asserts that more trauma leads to more mental health burdens and exacerbates risky behavior, such as drug and alcohol abuse and unprotected sex. “The fact of the matter is that these psychosocial stressors that gay men experience heighten their vulnerability to HIV,” Halkitis explained.

Halkitis received $2.9 million from the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) in 2009 to begin his study. While previous studies further conclude that consistent education efforts will aid in the prevention of spreading the disease among this population, Halkitis asserts that the research community must tackle the issue from a psychological and mental health standpoint.

“We take a holistic approach and believe that health states must be considered synergistically,” Halkitis explained. “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.”

About the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development
Located in the heart of Greenwich Village, NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development prepares students for careers in the arts, education, health, media, and psychology.  Since its founding in 1890, the Steinhardt School's mission has been to expand human capacity through public service, global collaboration, research, scholarship, and practice.To learn more about NYU Steinhardt, visit http://steinhardt.nyu.edu


This Press Release is in the following Topics:
NYUToday-feature, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development

Type: Press Release

Mental Health Burdens Contribute to HIV in Gay Men Says NYU Steinhardt Researcher

Search News



NYU In the News

Paying It Backward: NYU Alum Funds Scholarships

The Wall Street Journal profiled Trustee Evan Chesler on why he decided to chair the Momentum fund-raising campaign.

A Nobel Prize Party: Cheese, Bubbles, and a Boson

The New Yorker talked to Professor Kyle Cranmer and graduate student Sven Kreiss about NYU’s role in the discovery of the Higgs boson, which resulted in a Nobel prize for the scientists who predicted its existence.

The World as They Knew It

The New York Times reviewed the exhibit at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World on how ancient Greeks and Romans mapped the known and unknown areas of their world.

Elite Institutions: Far More Diverse Than They Were 20 Years Ago

NYU made stronger gains over the last 20 years in increasing diversity than any other major research university, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Program Seeks to Nurture ‘Data Science Culture’
at Universities

The New York Times reported on the multi-million collaboration among NYU and two other universities to harness the potential of Big Data, including an interview with Professor Yann LeCun, director of NYU’s Center for Data Science.

NYU Footer