Intersectional stigma and the noncommunicable disease syndemic in the context of HIV: protocol for a multisite, observational study in the USA

M. Reuel Friedman*, Sheila Badri, Lisa Bowleg, Sabina A. Haberlen, Deborah L. Jones, Mirjam Colette Kempf, Deborah Konkle-Parker, Jenn Kwait, Jeremy Martinson, Matthew J. Mimiaga, Michael W. Plankey, Valentina Stosor, Alexander C. Tsai, Janet M. Turan, Deanna Ware, Katherine Wu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction The increasing burden of non-communicable diseases, such as hypertension, diabetes and dyslipidaemia, presents key challenges to achieving optimal HIV care outcomes among ageing people living with HIV. These diseases are often comorbid and are exacerbated by psychosocial and structural inequities. This interaction among multiple health conditions and social factors is referred to as a syndemic. In the USA, there are substantial disparities by social position (ie, racial, ethnic and socioeconomic status) in the prevalence and/or control of non-communicable diseases and HIV. Intersecting stigmas, such as racism, classism and homophobia, may drive these health disparities by contributing to healthcare avoidance and by contributing to a psychosocial syndemic (stress, depression, violence victimisation and substance use), reducing success along the HIV and non-communicable disease continua of care. Our hypothesis is that marginalised populations experience disparities in non-communicable disease incidence, prevalence and control, mediated by intersectional stigma and the psychosocial syndemic. Methods and analysis Collecting data over a 4 year period, we will recruit sexual minority men (planned n=1800) enrolled in the MACS/WIHS Combined Cohort Study, a long-standing mixed-serostatus observational cohort in the USA, to investigate the following specific aims: (1) assess relationships between social position, intersectional stigma and the psychosocial syndemic among middle-aged and ageing sexual minority men, (2) assess relationships between social position and noncommunicable disease incidence and prevalence and (3) assess relationships between social position and HIV and non-communicable disease continua of care outcomes, mediated by intersectional stigma and the psychosocial syndemic. Analyses will be conducted using generalised structural equation models using a cross-lagged panel model design. Ethics and dissemination This protocol is approved as a single-IRB study (Advarra Institutional Review Board: Protocol 00068335). We will disseminate results via peer-reviewed academic journals, scientific conferences, a dedicated website, site community advisory boards and forums hosted at participating sites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere075368
JournalBMJ open
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 25 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine

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