The present study sought to replicate effects of the number of syndemic psychosocial health conditions on sexual risk behavior and HIV infection among a sample of high-risk African American men who have sex with men (MSM) and to identify resilience factors that may buffer these effects. We used baseline data from an HIV risk-reduction trial to examine whether a higher number of syndemic conditions was associated with higher rates of self-reported sexual risk behavior and HIV infection. Using logistic regression models, we tested for interactions between number of syndemic conditions and several potential resilience factors to identify buffering effects. Replicating previous studies, we found significant associations between numbers of syndemic conditions and higher rates of sexual risk behavior and HIV infection. Surprisingly, we also replicated a previous finding (Stall et al., Am J Public Health, 93(6):939-942, 2003) that the effects of syndemic burden on HIV status fell off at the highest levels of syndemic conditions. Among a variety of potential resilience factors, two-optimism and education-buffered the syndemic effect on HIV prevalence. This is, to our knowledge, the first paper to identify resilience factors buffering against syndemic effects among MSM. It also constitutes a significant contribution to the literature regarding prevention among black MSM. These results point to the need to identify HIV-positive black MSM and provide effective treatment for them and to develop interventions addressing both syndemic and resilience factors.
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