Dr Judith Auerbach, a former White House science adviser, says that the recent increase in HIV rates in the Western world may have to do with the trend of homo-negativity that prevails in religious and ethnic communities.
"HIV infection rates among gay men have increased steadily since the 1990s, while they've declined among most other population groups. The epidemic is still overwhelmingly among gay men," Auerbach told the Sydney Star Observer.
She is currently in Australia in her capacity as the vice president of science and public policy at the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and is due to speak at the 2009 Australasian Sexual Health and HIV conferences in Brisbane.
"Everything from child sexual abuse, to being bullied in school, to other ways you could define homo-negativity, the ways dominant culture is negative to homosexuality and is played out by bullies, has a relationship to adult behaviours that lead to HIV risk," Dr Auerbach added.