"What Could Have Been Different": A Qualitative Study of Syndemic Theory and HIV Prevention Among Young Men Who Have Sex With Men

Thomas Lyons*, Amy K. Johnson, Robert Garofalo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

Young men who have sex with men (MSM) experience multiple health disparities, including alcohol and drug use, partner violence, victimization due to sexual orientation, and HIV infection. Syndemic theorists explain the clustering of these disparities among adult MSM as a result of cultural marginalization. To date, research on a similar emerging syndemic among young MSM has been limited to quantitative studies. The authors seek to better understand these disparities, and how they may cluster together, via qualitative interviews with 21 ethnically diverse, HIV-infected young MSM aged 18 to 24 years. These youth report a lack of gay-specific HIV prevention education, absence of role models, and lack of productive future goal-related activities as factors related to their acquisition of HIV and downplay substance use as a factor. Although not necessarily the components traditionally cited by syndemic theorists, these findings support the notion that multiple factors of cultural marginalization cluster together in the lives of young MSM and underscore the importance of community-level interventions, such as sexual health education, access to mentors, and assistance with future goal setting and planning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)368-383
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of HIV/AIDS and Social Services
Volume12
Issue number3-4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2013

Keywords

  • HIV/AIDS
  • marginalization
  • syndemic
  • young men who have sex with men

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)

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