Are negative affective states associated with HIV sexual risk behaviors? A meta-analytic review

Health Psychol. 2001 Jul;20(4):291-9. doi: 10.1037//0278-6133.20.4.291.


This meta-analytic review examined whether negative affective states (depressive symptomatology, anxiety, anger) are associated with sexual behaviors that place people at risk for contracting or transmitting HIV. The results from 34 study samples were included in the analysis. Contrary to popular belief, the findings as a whole provide little evidence that negative affect is associated with increased sexual risk behavior. The average weighted correlation for the overall association was .05. The effect size was nonsignificantly higher for anger (r = .10) than for depressive symptoms (r = .04) or anxiety (r = .03). The variability of effect sizes was not accounted for by type of sexual risk measure, subject population, or methodological aspects of the studies. Conceptual and methodological limitations of the literature are identified and directions for future research are discussed.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Anger*
  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Female
  • HIV Seropositivity / epidemiology
  • HIV Seropositivity / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Risk-Taking
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*