The Utility of a Syndemic Framework in Understanding Chronic Disease Management Among HIV-Infected and Type 2 Diabetic Men Who Have Sex with Men
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Syndemic theory posits that epidemics of multiple physical and psychosocial problems co-occur among disadvantaged groups due to adverse social conditions. Although sexual minority populations are often stigmatized and vulnerable to multiple health problems, the syndemic perspective has been underutilized in understanding chronic disease. To assess the potential utility of this perspective in understanding the management of co-occurring HIV and Type 2 diabetes, we used linear regression to examine glycemic control (A1c) among men who have sex with men (MSM) with both HIV and Type 2 diabetes (n = 88). Bivariable linear regression explored potential syndemic correlates of inadequate glycemic control. Compared to those with adequate glycemic control (A1c ≤ 7.5 %), more men with inadequate glycemic control (A1c > 7.5 %) had hypertension (70 vs. 46 %, p = 0.034), high triglycerides (93 vs. 61 %, p = 0.002), depression (67 vs. 39 %, p = 0.018), current substance abuse (15 vs. 2 %, p = 0.014), and detectable levels of HIV (i.e., viral load ≥75 copies per ml blood; 30 vs. 10 %, p = 0.019). In multivariable regression controlling for age, the factors that were independently associated with higher A1c were high triglycerides, substance use, and detectable HIV viral load, suggesting that chronic disease management among MSM is complex and challenging for patients and providers. Findings also suggest that syndemic theory can be a clarifying lens for understanding chronic disease management among sexual minority stigmatized populations. Interventions targeting single conditions may be inadequate when multiple conditions co-occur; thus, research using a syndemic framework may be helpful in identifying intervention strategies that target multiple co-occurring conditions.
KeywordsSyndemics HIV Diabetes MSM Chronic disease management
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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