271281 Internalized homophobia, AIDS stigma, and psychological distress in Black men who have sex with men

Monday, October 29, 2012

Melissa Boone, MA , Sociomedical Sciences, Columbia University, New York, NY
Patrick A. Wilson, PhD , Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, NY
Background: Gay men are subject to stress due to their stigmatization within the heterosexist societies in which they live. Gay men may be especially susceptible to stigma about AIDS, especially if they are themselves HIV-positive. In addition, gay men face internalized homophobia, or self-directed negative attitudes. Studies have linked internalized homophobia with psychological distress. The purpose of this study was to investigate these possible associations in a community sample of young Black gay men.

Methods: Data were collected from a sample of 227 young Black gay and bisexual men living in New York. Participants were recruited from community venues and online websites. Participants completed a survey that measured basic demographic information, internalized homophobia, stigmatized perceptions about AIDS, and psychological distress. Linear regression analysis was used to determine whether there are existing associations between psychological distress, AIDS stigma and internalized homophobia.

Results: Internalized homophobia was associated with depressive distress, anxiety, more somatization of psychological distress, and interpersonal sensitivity. AIDS-related stigma was associated with higher rates of psychological distress, but only for men who were HIV+. For HIV- men, higher levels of AIDS-related stigma were associated with lower interpersonal sensitivity symptoms.

Conclusion: Internalized homophobia and AIDS stigma in Black gay men can have a significant impact on their mental health. These factors need to be accounted for when designing interventions and programs for Black gay men. Further investigation should be conducted on strategies to mitigate the effects of internalized homophobia and AIDS stigma on mental health, particularly in young Black HIV+ men.

Learning Areas:
Diversity and culture
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the relationship between internalized stigma and mental health among Black men who have sex with men. 2. Identify minority stress factors, such as internalized homophobia and AIDS-related stigma, that are associated with poor mental health outcomes among young Black MSM.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a PhD student in the field who has done work focusing on the social and behavioral relationships between HIV and mental health for the entirety of my PhD program. My scientific interests lie in linking and developing interventions for the connection between mental health and HIV risk factors.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.