Experience of Older Gay and Bisexual Men Living with HIV/AIDS

  • Nathan L. Linsk


Although HIV/AIDS definitely impacts gay and bisexual men of all ages, the impact on people in their later years has not been actively investigated. This exploratory study obtained detailed narratives from 14 adults between the ages of 51-72, all of whom were infected with HIV. Ten of the participants were potentially infected through male to male sexual contact. The subjects reported living with HIV for substantial periods with an average of 13 years of life since diagnosis, estimating a duration of HIV seropositivity from 1-20 years. Most had significant health problems, which may be related to aging, in addition to a number of HIV-related symptoms. They expressed community identification as people living with HIV; some were highly identified as gay men, while other were closeted or in denial regarding their same-sex activity. Half felt to some extent bisexual, and described relationships with wives or other women. Although many participants maintained active social lives, others expressed feelings of loneliness and isolation. This group was minimally active sexually and several of the participants expressed reservations about safer sex, especially condom usage. A strong theme was the sense of having lived a full life, which may help the individual cope with his diagnosis. The findings suggest the need to examine the diversity among older gay and bisexual men living with HIV, how these experiences vary by race and ethnicity, and identification of issues related to prevention and services.

AIDS HIV gay men aging older adults sexuality identity 


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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nathan L. Linsk
    • 1
  1. 1.Jane Addams College of Social WorkUniversity of IllinoisChicago

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