Syndemic statuses: Intersectionality and mobilizing for LGBTQ+ Latinx health equity after the Pulse shooting

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As a theoretical framework, syndemics offers a way to examine interactions between two or more pathogens or social phenomena that interact synergistically to exacerbate poor health. The concept allows for interrogating the social, political, and economic circumstances responsible for disease clusters, but it insufficiently considers how social factors themselves interrelate to create complex forms of social subjugation. Failing to examine intersecting inequalities that produce the social contexts in which syndemic interactions occur will inhibit efforts to correct the root causes of poor health. To address this shortcoming, I argue there is a need for research on syndemics to be informed by intersectionality—a framework that considers how multiple interlocking types of oppression create distinct structural inequalities and life experiences. Advancing this argument, I draw from ethnographic fieldwork in Orlando, Florida, following the Pulse nightclub shooting, which disproportionately affected LGBTQ+ Latinx individuals who experience intersecting forms of social marginalization and are part of a population at risk for an HIV and psychopathology syndemic. Key informant interviews (n = 13) revealed how LGBTQ+ Latinx organizations emerged after the shooting to mobilize for greater health equity and health programs that directly respond to populations who experience unique inequalities related to their intersecting LGBTQ+ and Latinx identities. Findings from this article show how attention to intersectionality can inform efforts to mitigate existing syndemics and prevent future syndemics. Such efforts are needed to adequately examine the social contexts in which syndemics arise and to respond to the social and political phenomena that interact to inform health-related vulnerability.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113260
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
StatePublished - Feb 2022


  • FL
  • Intersectionality
  • Latinx populations
  • LGBTQ+ health
  • Orlando
  • Pulse shooting
  • Syndemics
  • US


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