Examining a Syndemics Network Among Young Latino Men Who Have Sex with Men

Jasper S. Lee, Steven A. Safren, Sierra A. Bainter, Carlos E. Rodríguez-Díaz, Keith J. Horvath, Aaron J. Blashill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: Although studies consistently find that syndemic indicators are additively associated with increased HIV/STI risk behavior (e.g., condomless anal sex; CAS) among men who have sex with men (MSM), information is lacking about how syndemic indicators are associated with each other. Young Latino MSM are one of the most at-risk groups for acquiring HIV in the U.S. Understanding the associations of syndemic indicators with each other and with CAS may improve understanding of how to enhance sexual and behavioral health in this population. Method: Network analysis using the graphical LASSO (glasso) algorithm was employed to explore associations between CAS and syndemic indicators among 139 young Latino MSM. Structural and psychosocial syndemic indicators were assessed via self-report. CAS was defined as the number of partners in the past 3 months with whom one engaged in CAS. Results: Results of the network analysis suggested the variables with the highest centrality were unstable housing, prison history, childhood sexual abuse, and CAS. Specific significant associations included links between CAS and alcohol use (b = 0.40), childhood sexual abuse and unstable housing (b = − 0.75), alcohol use and childhood sexual abuse (b = 0.40), and substance use and intimate partner violence (b = 0.43). Conclusion: This pattern of interconnectedness demonstrates the potential for network analysis to examine nuanced interrelationships of syndemic indicators. The specific associations in this sample raise the question whether a primary focus of interventions should address the more central syndemic indicators for this population, such as alcohol use and unstable housing, and whether this would, via downstream effects, affect other aspects of behavioral health in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-51
Number of pages13
JournalInternational journal of behavioral medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020


  • HIV
  • Latino
  • Men who have sex with men
  • Network analysis
  • Syndemic indicators

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology


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