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Purpose of reviewThe purpose of this review is to identify themes across articles that aimed to explore HIV-related syndemics in 2020 and 2021 and to discuss their implications for research on syndemics.Recent findingsWe identified 189 articles on syndemics between 2020 and 2021. Key themes across studies included COVID-19; mental health and psychosocial challenges; substance use; socio-structural factors; protective factors; and methodological approaches. COVID-19's implications for HIV syndemic research were discussed. Mental health and substance use research largely examined linkages with sexual practices or reduced HIV care retention. Researchers examined associations between socio-structural variables (e.g. poverty) and elevated HIV exposure, reduced HIV testing and poorer health. Concepts of water insecurity and ‘ecosyndemics’ were also raised, as was the importance of attending to noncommunicable diseases and comorbidities. Most studies did not assess interactions between health conditions, signalling the need for methodological grounding in the foundational concepts of syndemic theory.SummaryMost studies recommended that HIV prevention and care research attend to the interplay between poor mental health, substance use and multidimensional violence. Increased attention to structural factors, particularly exacerbated poverty in the COVID-19 pandemic, is required. Research can identify protective factors to harness to advance HIV prevention and care.
Current Opinion in HIV and AIDS – Wolters Kluwer Health
Published: Mar 25, 2022
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