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The syndemics model is used to describe co-occurring epidemics that have a multiplicative effect on bodily systems through the adverse interaction of two or more diseases or health conditions. Additionally, in these situations, interactions with social conditions exacerbate both the prognosis and the burden of disease. There are two layers of interaction in this model—the way diseases interact with each other and the way diseases are promoted by the social conditions in which people are living. It is important to understand this concept in order to create and implement effective multilevel preventive and intervention strategies that address these global public health issues by moving beyond the traditional silos of focusing on one epidemic.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine convened a public workshop on May 16-17, 2019 to explore the syndemic model and three syndemics/co-occuring epidemics. This includes 1) opioid use disorder (OUD), violence, suicide, and mental health in the United States, 2) adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and childhood trauma; adult violence and victimization; and health outcomes from a global perspective, and 3) human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and violence. The workshop participants considered the perspectives of survivors, researchers studying these interactions, public health professionals engaged with affected communities and in the creation and implementation of prevention and intervention measures, and policy makers who are seeking multilevel interventions. This publication briefly summarizes the presentations and discussions from the workshop.

Suggested Citation

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Interpersonal Violence Syndemics and Co-Occurring Epidemics: Preventing Violence in the Context of Opioid Misuse, Suicide, Social Disparities, and HIV: Proceedings of a Workshop—in Brief. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

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