Home > High prevalence of syndemic health problems in patients seeking post-exposure prophylaxis for sexual exposures to HIV.

Morrison, Steven A and Yoong, Deborah and Hart, Trevor A and MacPherson, Paul and Bogoch, Isaac and Sivarajah, Vishalini and Gough, Kevin and Naccarato, Mark and Tan, Darrell H S (2018) High prevalence of syndemic health problems in patients seeking post-exposure prophylaxis for sexual exposures to HIV. PLoS ONE, 13, (5), e0197998. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0197998.

External website: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.13...

INTRODUCTION: The standard clinical approach to non-occupational HIV post-exposure prophylaxis (nPEP) focuses on biomedical aspects of the intervention, but may overlook co-occurring or 'syndemic' psychosocial problems that reinforce future vulnerability to HIV. We therefore sought to determine the prevalence of syndemic health problems in a cohort of Ontario nPEP patients, and explored the relationship between syndemic burden and HIV risk.

METHODS: Between 07/2013-08/2016, we distributed a self-administered questionnaire to patients presenting to three clinics in Toronto and Ottawa seeking nPEP for sexual HIV exposures. We used validated screening tools to estimate the prevalence of depression (CES-D score ≥16), harmful alcohol use (AUDIT ≥8), problematic drug use (DUDIT ≥6 men/≥2 women), and sexual compulsivity (SCS ≥24) among men who have sex with men (MSM) respondents. In exploratory analyses, we examined the relationships between syndemic conditions using univariable logistic regression models, and the relationship between syndemic count (total number of syndemic conditions per participant) and HIV risk, as estimated by the HIRI-MSM score, using linear regression models.

RESULTS: The 186 MSM included in the analysis had median age 31 (IQR = 26-36), including 87.6% having a college/undergraduate degree or higher. Overall, 53.8% screened positive for depression, 34.4% for harmful alcohol use, 30.1% for problematic drug use, and 16.1% for sexual compulsivity. Most participants (74.2%) had at least one syndemic condition and 46.8% had more than one. Exploratory analyses suggested positive associations between depression and harmful alcohol use (OR = 2.11, 95%CI = 1.13, 3.94) and between harmful alcohol use and problematic drug use (OR = 1.22, 95%CI = 0.65, 2.29). Syndemic count was associated with increased HIRI-MSM risk scores in univariable (2.2, 95%CI = 1.0, 3.3 per syndemic condition) and multivariable (2.1, 95%CI = 0.6, 3.6) linear regression models.

CONCLUSIONS: The prevalence of syndemic conditions in MSM seeking nPEP for sexual exposure is alarmingly high, and is associated with underlying HIV risk. Routine screening for these conditions may identify opportunities for intervention and could alleviate future vulnerability to HIV.

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