Integrating HIV and mental health interventions to address a global syndemic among men who have sex with men

Operario D, Sun S, Bermudez AN, Masa R, Shangani S, van der Elst E, Sanders E
Lancet HIV. 2022;9

Permenent descriptor

In this Series paper, we review evidence on the co-occurring and synergistic epidemics (syndemic) of HIV and mental health problems worldwide among men who have sex with men (MSM). The multilevel determinants of this global syndemic include structural factors that enable stigma, systematic bias, and violence towards MSM across geographical and cultural contexts. Cumulative exposure to these factors over time results in population-level inequities in the burden of HIV infections and mental health problems among MSM. Evidence for this syndemic among MSM is strongest in the USA, Canada, western Europe, and parts of Asia and Latin America, with emerging evidence from sub-Saharan Africa. Integrated interventions are needed to address syndemics of HIV and mental health problems that challenge the wellbeing of MSM populations worldwide, and such interventions should consider various mental health conditions (eg, depression, anxiety, trauma, and suicidality) and their unique expressions and relationships with HIV outcomes depending on cultural contexts. In addition, interventions should identify and intervene with locally relevant structural factors that result in HIV and mental health vulnerabilities among MSM.