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Clinical Psychology, PhD
HIV/AIDS is a major public health concern for sexual minority men, especially men with risk factors for the virus. Most HIV prevention programs target relatively few behaviors, such as increasing individual condom use (Coates, Richter, & Caceres, 2008) through an exclusive focus on reducing high-risk behaviors (Herrick et al., 2011). Some researchers have posited whether more effective interventions, based on identifying and bolstering strengths of sexual minority men, should be developed. To that end, I conducted (a) a systematic review and (b) a qualitative study to serve as foundational steps in identifying resilience resources in samples of high risk, HIV-negative, sexual minority men. Both research inquiries examined samples of HIV-negative sexual minority men who endorsed at least one syndemic condition—empirically supported psychosocial risk factors identified as significantly increasing risk for HIV—including childhood sexual abuse, partner abuse, substance abuse, or mental health problems. In the systematic review, I identified 34 distinct resilience resources, including identity descriptors, behaviors related directly and indirectly to sex, cognitions, emotions, and relationships. I utilized these results to develop a qualitative interview guide. Results from interviews with 13 sexual minority men buttressed findings from the review: that resilience resources occurred at multiple ecosystem levels. More work is needed on ecosystem frameworks in HIV prevention to address the comprehensive issues influencing HIV infection. In addition, one hypothesis I generated from the interviews is that psychosocial risk factors for HIV may trigger stress-related growth for a certain subset of sexual minority men, leading to development of factors that decrease their HIV risk.
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Woodward, Eva N., "Identifying Resilience in HIV-Negative Sexual Minority Men with Syndemic Conditions" (2015). Psychology Department Dissertations. 17.