People who described themselves as being in low to average social and economic groups were more likely to become HIV-positive than those in higher socioeconomic groups.
“HIV is a biological phenomena and it is a behavioral phenomena, but in this day and age it is a social and structural phenomena,” he said.
“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,” John Pachankis, lead author of the study, said in a statement. “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.”
For the study, researchers collected and analyzed data from the European MSM Internet Survey, which was completed by 174,000 gay and bisexual men. They compared this data to a measure of country-level laws, policies, and social attitudes toward homosexuality.
They found that attitudes about homosexuality varied greatly across the continent, but they noticed that men living in countries with higher levels of homophobia knew less about HIV and were less likely to use condoms. This finding leads the researchers to conclude that homophobia reduces the use of health services and compromises health-service quality.