Number of Psychosocial Strengths Predicts Reduced HIV Sexual Risk Behaviors Above and Beyond Syndemic Problems Among Gay and Bisexual Men


Syndemics research shows the additive effect of psychosocial problems on high-risk sexual behavior among gay and bisexual men (GBM). Psychosocial strengths may predict less engagement in high-risk sexual behavior. In a study of 470 ethnically diverse HIV-negative GBM, regression models were computed using number of syndemic psychosocial problems, number of psychosocial strengths, and serodiscordant condomless anal sex (CAS). The number of syndemic psychosocial problems correlated with serodiscordant CAS (RR = 1.51, 95% CI 1.18–1.92; p = 0.001). When adding the number of psychosocial strengths to the model, the effect of syndemic psychosocial problems became non-significant, but the number of strengths-based factors remained significant (RR = 0.67, 95% CI 0.53–0.86; p = 0.002). Psychosocial strengths may operate additively in the same way as syndemic psychosocial problems, but in the opposite direction. Consistent with theories of resilience, psychosocial strengths may be an important set of variables predicting sexual risk behavior that is largely missing from the current HIV behavioral literature.

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Change history

  • 11 June 2018

    The original version of this article unfortunately contained a mistake. In the section, “Data Collection Procedure”, the last sentence was incorrect.


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The authors would like thank all the participants of the Gay Strengths Study for their participation.


This research was supported by a grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (#CBR-112845) as well as by a Career Scientist Award (TH, #SCI G650) and an Applied HIV Research Chair Award (TH, #AHRC G937) from the Ontario HIV Treatment Network.

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Correspondence to Trevor A. Hart.

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Hart, T.A., Noor, S.W., Adam, B.D. et al. Number of Psychosocial Strengths Predicts Reduced HIV Sexual Risk Behaviors Above and Beyond Syndemic Problems Among Gay and Bisexual Men. AIDS Behav 21, 3035–3046 (2017).

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  • HIV
  • Men who have sex with men
  • Gay men
  • Syndemics
  • Psychosocial strengths