Background Interactions between substance use, violence, HIV and AIDS, known as the ‘SAVA’ syndemic, are understudied among refugee youth. We assessed the synergistic effects of frequent alcohol use, depression and violence on HIV vulnerability among urban refugee youth aged 16–24 years in Kampala, Uganda.
Methods We conducted a cross-sectional survey between January and April 2018 with a convenience sample of refugee youth aged 16–24 years living in informal settlements in Kampala (Kabalagala, Rubaga, Kansanga, Katwe, Nsambya). We assessed non-communicable health conditions (frequent [≥3 times per week] alcohol use [FAU]; depression); violence (young adulthood violence [YAV] at age ≥16 years, intimate partner violence [IPV]), and HIV vulnerability (past 12-month transactional sex; recent [past 3-month] multiple [≥2] sex partners). We calculated the prevalence and co-occurrence of non-communicable health conditions, violence and HIV vulnerability variables. We then conducted multivariable logistic regression analyses to first create unique profiles of FAU, depression, YAV and IPV exposures, and second to assess for interactions between exposures on HIV vulnerability outcomes.
Results Most participants (n=445; mean age: 19.59, SD: 2.6; women: n=333, 74.8%, men: n=112, 25.2%) reported at least one non-communicable health condition or violence exposure (n=364, 81.8%), and over half (n=278, 62.4%) reported co-occurring exposures. One-fifth reported FAU (n=90; 20.2%) and one-tenth (n=49; 11%) major depression. In logistic regression models including all two-way product terms, adjusted for sociodemographics, we found (a) multiplicative interaction for joint effects of FAU and IPV (adjusted OR (aOR)=4.81, 95% CI: 1.32 to 17.52) on multiple sex partners, and (b) multiplicative interaction for joint effects of FAU and IPV (aOR=3.72, 95% CI: 1.42 to 9.74), and YAV and depression (aOR=7.13, 95% CI: 1.34 to 37.50), on transactional sex.
Conclusion Findings signal the importance of addressing the SAVA syndemic among urban refugee youth in Uganda. Synergistic interactions indicate that addressing FAU, depression or violence may concomitantly reduce HIV vulnerability with urban refugee youth.
- Child health
- Mental Health & Psychiatry
- Community-based survey
Data availability statement
Data are available upon reasonable request. Data available upon request and upon receiving research ethics approval via amendment.
This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.
Statistics from Altmetric.com
If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.
Handling editor Seye Abimbola
Contributors CHL conceptualised the paper, acquired funding to support data collection, and led the writing and revision and is the guarantor of this study and its overall content. MO supported data collection, led the data analysis and contributed to writing. KM contributed to writing and editing the manuscript. SM, RH, UMK and PK contributed to funding acquisition, supported data collection, and provided edits and input to the data interpretation and manuscript.
Funding The study was supported by funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Institute of Gender and Health and the Canada Foundation for Innovation. CHL was also supported by funding from the Ontario Ministry of Research & Innovation Early Researcher Award and the Canada Research Chairs Programme.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research. Refer to the Methods section for further details.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.