Objective: Among men who have sex with men (MSM), HIV sexual risk and poor self-care behavior is associated with syndemics, or co-occurring psychosocial problems. Though prior research has demonstrated an additive total effect of syndemics on HIV risk behavior and infection, mostly within cross-sectional designs, it is possible that these associations are not direct but rather that syndemics disrupt relevant individual-level mediating psychological variables. One of the more common individual-level psychological variables that predicts health behavior generally, and HIV risk behavior specifically, is self-efficacy. This study sought to examine the potential effects of syndemics on condomless sex via condom-use self-efficacy as an intermediary variable. Method: In high-risk MSM (N = 197), across 3 time points (baseline, 3 months, and 6 months) we used latent growth curve modeling to test the degree to which self-efficacy mediated the relationship between syndemics (heavy alcohol use, substance use disorder, sexual compulsivity, depression, social anxiety, intimate partner violence, childhood sexual abuse) and condomless anal sex. Results: The baseline analyses were consistent with an indirect effect of the association between syndemics and condomless sex through self-efficacy. Prospective longitudinal mediation was partially supported, such that baseline syndemics were associated with lower baseline self-efficacy, which in turn predicted higher increases in condomless anal sex across time. Conclusions: These findings provide preliminary evidence (due to the partial support for the longitudinal model) that syndemics themselves may not be directly causal in their association with condomless sex, but the association may be through modifiable social- cognitive mechanisms such as condom self-efficacy.
- HIV risk
- Men who have sex with men (MSM)
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Applied Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health