Study Finds Correlation Between Violence in Gay Couples and Drug Use, Depression and Unprotected Sex

gay domestic violenceA new study has found a strong correlation between domestic violence among gay male couples and drug use, unprotected sex, depression and HIV infection.

The study, conducted by Ana Maria Buller, Karen M. Devries, Louise M. Howard and Loraine J. Bacchus, was funded by Britain’s National Institute for Health Research. It was published March 4 on the PLOS Medicine website.

The researchers found a strong correlation between drug use and aggressive behavior by a partner in gay relationship. There was a correlation between victims of such violence and alcohol or drug use, depression, being HIV positive and engaging in unprotected anal sex.

The researchers said they conducted the study because there is evidence that a partner in a gay male relationship is as likely to be attacked physically, sexually or emotionally as is a woman in a heterosexual relationship. They cited various studies indicating that from 15.4 percent to 51 percent of men in gay male relationships experience such attacks from their partners.

The researchers define physical violence as hitting, kicking and other types of physical force; sexual violence as forcing a partner to take part in a sex act without his consent and emotional abuse as threatening a partner by, for example, stalking him or preventing him from seeing his family.

They conducted their research by reviewing a variety of existing studies that touch on the topic of domestic partner violence among gay men.

They concluded that being in a violent relationship increases a partner’s likelihood of having to engage in unprotected anal sex and thus the likelihood that he could become infected with HIV. They also suggested that some HIV positive men who have not disclosed their status to a partner for fear of his violent reaction may be reluctant to take their HIV medication or see a doctor about the infection for fear of being found out.

The relationship between domestic violence and drug abuse and depression suggests a need for more mental health services for gay men, they said.