A syndemic is a relatively novel concept in epidemiology, referring to the simultaneous occurrence and synergy of two or more diseases or conditions in a large population in a social context that aggravates them.
A syndemic is usually confined to a certain geographical area at a certain time and often brought about by changes in cultural, political and/or economic patterns e.g. globalization and poverty might change dietary patterns in a population which bring about more obesity, diabetes and depression in that population.
Syndemics may involve infectious and/or or non-communicable diseases and/or conditions e.g. the SAVA syndemic of substance abuse , violence and HIV/AIDS and often occur in specific social or ethnic groups inside a country or group of countries.
History and etymology
The term syndemic is a portmanteau of synergy and epidemic. The term is credited to medical anthropologist Merrill Singer (fl. 2020) who developed the concept in the mid-1990s, focusing his attention on the social conditions that created such phenomena.
- 1. Merill Singer, Scott Clair. Syndemics and Public Health: Reconceptualizing Disease in Bio‐Social Context. (2003) Medical Anthropology Quarterly. 17 (4): 423. doi:10.1525/maq.2003.17.4.423 - Pubmed
- 2. SullivanKristen A., MesserLynne C., QuinlivanE. Byrd. Substance Abuse, Violence, and HIV/AIDS (SAVA) Syndemic Effects on Viral Suppression Among HIV Positive Women of Color. (2015) AIDS Patient Care and STDs. 29 Suppl 1: S42-8. doi:10.1089/apc.2014.0278 - Pubmed
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