Syndemic Profiles and Sexual Minority Men’s HIV-Risk Behavior: A Latent Class Analysis

Jillian R. Scheer, Kirsty A. Clark, Anthony J. Maiolatesi, John E. Pachankis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Syndemic theory posits that “syndemic conditions” (e.g., alcohol misuse, polydrug use, suicidality) co-occur among sexual minority men and influence HIV-risk behavior, namely HIV acquisition and transmission risk. To examine how four syndemic conditions cluster among sexual minority men and contribute to HIV-risk behavior, we conducted latent class analysis (LCA) to: (1) classify sexual minority men (n = 937) into subgroups based on their probability of experiencing each syndemic condition; (2) examine the demographic (e.g., race/ethnicity) and social status (e.g., level of socioeconomic distress) characteristics of the most optimally fitting four syndemic classes; (3) examine between-group differences in HIV-risk behavior across classes; and (4) use syndemic class membership to predict HIV-risk behavior with sexual minority men reporting no syndemic conditions as the reference group. The four classes were: (1) no syndemic, (2) alcohol misuse and polydrug use syndemic, (3) polydrug use and HIV syndemic, and (4) alcohol misuse. HIV-risk behavior differed across these latent classes. Demographic and social status characteristics predicted class membership, suggesting that syndemic conditions disproportionately co-occur in vulnerable subpopulations of sexual minority men, such as those experiencing high socioeconomic distress. When predicting HIV-risk behavior, men in the polydrug use and HIV syndemic class were more likely (Adjusted Risk Ratio [ARR] = 2.93, 95% CI: 1.05, 8.21) and men in the alcohol misuse class were less likely (ARR = 0.17, 95% CI: 0.07, 0.44) to report HIV-risk behavior than were men in the no syndemic class. LCA represents a promising methodology to inform the development and delivery of tailored interventions targeting distinct combinations of syndemic conditions to reduce sexual minority men’s HIV-risk behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2825-2841
Number of pages17
JournalArchives of Sexual Behavior
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • HIV-risk behavior
  • Latent class analysis
  • Sexual minority men
  • Syndemic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology


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