In implicit association tests reported as part of a study, both gay men and lesbian women were found to be more associated with promiscuity and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) than straight counterparts.
The study – “Gay = STIs? Exploring gay and lesbian sexual health stereotypes and their implications for prejudice and discrimination” by Dylan R. Rice, Sa-kiera T. J. Hudson, and Nicole E. Noll – appeared in the European Journal of Social Psychology.
As it is, gay men and lesbian women already face health inequities as well as disparate treatment from healthcare providers. This is partially because of stereotypes surrounding sexual health, contributing to these disparities.
So the researchers did five studies (N = 1858) to “explore sexual health stereotypes about gay men and lesbian women and their implications in prejudice/discrimination.”
In Studies 1, 2A, and 2B, they found that people explicitly associated gay men with promiscuity and STIs more than lesbian women or straight men/women. To emphasize: In implicit association tests, both gay men and lesbian women were more associated with promiscuity and STIs than straight counterparts.
Studies 3A and 3B, meanwhile, showed that these associations have consequences – e.g. people expressed more prejudice and discrimination towards gay men and lesbian women with STIs versus those with non-STIs or straight counterparts with either disease type.
“Taken together, the research identifies some psychological factors that may underpin health disparities and healthcare barriers for gay and lesbian people,” the researchers stated, stressing the need to holistically look at this issue beyond merely a medical concern.