Operating without a safety net: gay male adolescents and emerging adults' experiences of marginalization and migration, and implications for theory of syndemic production of health disparities

Health Educ Behav. 2011 Aug;38(4):367-78. doi: 10.1177/1090198110375911. Epub 2011 Mar 11.


Health disparities among gay men (HIV, substance use, depression) have been described as a mutually occurring "syndemic" that is socially produced through two overarching dynamics: marginalization and migration. Although the syndemic theory proposes a developmental trajectory, it has been largely based on epidemiological studies of adult gay men and has not been examined using qualitative data from gay male adolescents and emerging adults describing their developmental experience. We conducted interviews with 54 HIV-positive gay and bisexual male adolescents and emerging adults at four sites in the United States. This study provides examples of developmental trajectories that help explain the early onset of socially produced health disparities among some gay male adolescents and emerging adults, but also the development of risk factors that may follow some gay men into adulthood.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Bisexuality / psychology*
  • Emigration and Immigration
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology*
  • HIV Infections / ethnology
  • HIV Infections / psychology*
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Homosexuality, Male / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prejudice
  • Qualitative Research
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult