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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update

UNITED STATES: Sexual Compulsivity, Co-Occurring Psychosocial Health Problems and HIV Risk Among Gay and Bisexual Men: Further Evidence of a Syndemic


American Journal of Public Health Vol. 102; No. 1: P. 156-162

The authors set out to evaluate whether sexual compulsivity fits into a syndemic framework, in which it is "one of a number of co-occurring psychosocial health problems that increase HIV risk among men who have sex with men (MSM)." In New York City from 2003-04, the team conducted an anonymous survey of 669 MSM; the men were approached at gay, lesbian and bisexual community events. Bivariate and multivariate logistic regression were used to analyze the data.

"We found strong positive interrelationships among syndemic factors including sexual compulsivity, depression, childhood sexual abuse, intimate partner violence and polydrug use," the authors reported.

Bivariate analyses showed all syndemic health problems except childhood sexual abuse were positively related to HIV seropositivity and high-risk sexual behavior. The multivariate models showed "an array of interrelationships among psychosocial health problems. We found amplified effects of these problems on HIV seropositivity and on the likelihood of engaging in high-risk sexual behavior," the authors wrote.

"Our findings support the conclusion that sexual compulsivity is a component of a syndemic framework for HIV risk among MSM," the team concluded. "HIV prevention interventions should consider the overlapping and compounding effects of psychosocial problems, including sexual compulsivity."


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