Few would likely debate the findings of a new study from China and California looking closely at a link between loneliness, depression and high-risk sexual behavior.
The findings show a strong link between men having sex with men facing depression and loneliness and risk-taking among those who are HIV negative.
The study focused on 507 men in China. Of the men, 26.8% showed signs of depression, while 35.5% also claimed feelings of loneliness.
Many of those who claimed depression were also dealing with feelings of hopelessness and internalized homophobia.
Also discovered in the study: men who reported feelings of loneliness were also 67% more likely to engage in condom-less anal sex, also known as “barebacking.”
Bareback sex can increase the chance of HIV infection in either partner.
Additionally, men who have sex with men in China also faced significant rates of depression and loneliness, only increasing the possibility of risky sexual behavior and, therefore, higher rates of HIV transmission.
Study researchers concluded that attempts at HIV prevention must address the mental health needs of men having sex with men, including the need for both safe environments for social support as well as positive role models.