Toronto Metropolitan University
Retrospective reports of developmental stressors, syndemics, and their association with sexual risk outcomes among gay men. .pdf (838.39 kB)

Retrospective Reports of Developmental Stressors, Syndemics, and Their Association with Sexual Risk Outcomes Among Gay Men

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journal contribution
posted on 2024-04-04, 16:40 authored by Tyler G. Tulloch, Nooshin Khobzi Rotondi, Stanley Ing, Ted Myers, Liviana M. Calzavara, Mona R. Loutfy, Trevor HartTrevor Hart

Gay and bisexual men (GBM) continue to have a disproportionately higher HIV incidence than any other group in Canada and the United States. This study examined how multiple co-occurring psychosocial problems, also known as a syndemic, contribute to high-risk sexual behavior among GBM. It also examined the impact of early life adversity on high-risk sexual behavior as mediated by syndemic severity. A sample of 239 GBM completed self-report questionnaires at baseline and 6-month follow-up. Syndemic variables included depression, polysubstance use, and intimate partner violence. Early life adversity variables measured retrospectively included physical and verbal bullying by peers and physical and sexual abuse by adults. A Cochran-Armitage trend test revealed a proportionate increase between number of syndemic problems and engagement in high-risk sex (p < .0001), thereby supporting syndemic theory. All early life adversity variables were positively correlated with number of syndemic problems. A bootstrap mediation analysis revealed indirect effects of two types of early life adversity on high-risk sex via syndemic severity: verbal bullying by peers and physical abuse by adults. There was also an overall effect of physical bullying by peers on high-risk sexual behavior, but no specific direct or indirect effects were observed. Consistent with syndemic theory, results provide evidence that certain types of early life adversity impact high-risk sex later in life via syndemic problems. Behavioral interventions to reduce sexual risk among GBM should address anti-gay discrimination experienced before adulthood as well as adult psychological problems.