Longitudinal Effects of Syndemics on HIV-Positive Sexual Minority Men’s Sexual Health Behaviors

Audrey Harkness, Sierra A. Bainter, Conall O’Cleirigh, Christopher Albright, Kenneth H. Mayer, Steven A. Safren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


This study examined the longitudinal effects of co-occurring psychosocial concerns, or syndemics, on HIV-positive sexual minority men’s likelihood of engaging in serodiscordant condomless anal sex (CAS), a health behavior with implications for personal and public health. Participants included 390 HIV-positive sexual minority men from two prior secondary prevention trials. Over the course of the 1-year data collection period (up to 5 observations per participant), participants completed self-report measures of CAS, as well as six syndemic factors: post-traumatic stress disorder, childhood sexual abuse, depression, anxiety, alcohol abuse, and polysubstance/stimulant use. We employed multilevel modeling to examine the longitudinal additive effect of syndemics on serodiscordant CAS (binary) over the 1-year period. The number of syndemic conditions was a significant predictor of CAS, with each additional syndemic associated with 1.41 greater odds of CAS (p =.0004; 95% CI [1.16, 1.70]). Both the between-person (p =.0121, 95% CI [1.07, 1.69]) and within-person (p =.01, 95% CI [1.11, 2.10]) effects of syndemics were significant predictors, showing that an increase in the number of syndemic conditions across person and time both increased odds of CAS. Interventions addressing HIV-positive sexual minority men’s sexual health behaviors should address the potential impact of co-occurring psychosocial concerns that affect these behaviors. This will benefit this population’s personal sexual health and reduce transmission of HIV and STIs among sexual minority men.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalArchives of Sexual Behavior
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • Men who have sex with men/MSM
  • Secondary HIV prevention
  • Sexual behavior
  • Sexual orientation
  • Syndemic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)


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