Research suggests a syndemic of substance use, mental illness, and familial conflict is associated with poor HIV medical outcomes among African American persons living with HIV (PLHIV). Social support may facilitate positive health outcomes. This study explores psychosocial correlates of HIV medical outcomes, defined as undetectable viral load (UVL) and acute care minimization. Data were from baseline of the BEACON study (N = 351). UVL was ≤40 copies/mL. Acute care minimization was defined as no ER visits and/or hospitalizations in 6 months. Descriptive statistics and Poisson regression were implemented (N = 351). Moderate syndemic burden was associated with viral suppression. Individuals with main partner caregivers had 35% higher likelihood of viral suppression than individuals whose main supporters were neither kin nor main partners (adjusted point-prevalence rate ratio [APR] = 1.35; 95% CI [1.05, 1.74]). Surprisingly, individuals with more health-related support were more likely to use acute care than individuals with less health-related support (p<.05). Interaction analyses showed that physical function modified the relationship between main supporter type and acute care minimization. Results suggest that social support receipt was not consistently associated with HIV medical outcomes. Conversely, higher syndemic burden may have facilitated positive outcomes through necessitating increased rates of health care engagement. Health care professionals should elicit discussion of social support to strengthen PLHIVs' and their supporters' relationships to improve their health. Results highlight the need for culturally tailored interventions to improve HIV medical outcomes among African American PLHIV substance users.
Keywords: African Americans; HIV/AIDS; health care utilization; health disparities; injection drug use; syndemic theory.