Having a good week? It may lead to healthier choices. If you are a man with HIV, you may be more likely to use a condom during sex. In a new study, researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health report that HIV-positive men whose moods improved in a given week were more likely to have safe sex than they would in a normal week. In weeks where moods were worse than usual, they were more likely to have unprotected sex.
Results appear online in the journal Health Psychology.
The Mailman School researchers are the first to look at sexual risk as it relates to changes in mood, rather than general level of depression. Over six weeks, 106 sexually active, HIV-positive men who have sex with men living in New York completed weekly surveys that asked about their sexual behavior, depression, and wellbeing during the prior week. Overall, 66% of study participants reported having unprotected anal intercourse in the prior two months; 81% had multiple partners.
Three-quarters of the study participants were black and Latino men, a group disproportionately affected by HIV. According to the Centers for Disease Control, a quarter of all new HIV infections in the country are in black and Latino men, and 45% in New York City. While the rate of new HIV infections has plateaued overall, for black and Latino men who have sex with men, HIV infections are on the rise.