Syndemics and salivary inflammation in people living with HIV/AIDS

Brooke G. Rogers, Tiffany R. Glynn, Sierra A. Bainter, Thomas McCauley, Michael H. Antoni, Steven A. Safren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: People living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) are disproportionally exposed to a host of structural, community, and individual-level physical and psychosocial stressors also termed ‘syndemic conditions.’ The current study aimed to examine the association between experiencing syndemic conditions and physiological stress response and be associated with bodily inflammation, including Interlekin-6 (IL-6) and C-reactive protein (CRP) in PLWHA. Design: Participants (N = 103) were recruited from a public HIV clinic. They provided saliva samples of IL-6 and CRP and completed psychosocial measures. Main outcome measures: Levels of circulating salivary IL-6 and CRP. Results: When predictors (birth country, recent housing instability, and incarceration history) were simultaneously entered into a regression model, only incarceration history was negatively associated with IL-6 [b = −.27, t(98) = −3.11, p =.002]. For CRP, the resulting regression model was not significant, [F(3, 98) = 2.23, p =.090]. Conclusion: Although we had expected higher levels of syndemics to be associated with higher levels of circulating inflammation, in our sample, length of incarceration was associated with lower levels of circulating IL-6. Findings are therefore suggestive of a stress response disruption resulting in a negative feedback loop as the long-term impact of chronic stress on inflammation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)496-510
Number of pages15
JournalPsychology and Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2021


  • HIV
  • cytokines
  • inflammation
  • syndemic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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