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"A Shrinking Kind of Life": Gay Men's Experience of Aging with HIV.

Masten J 1 .

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Abstract
More people are living with HIV into midlife and older age. While increased longevity brings new hope, it also raises unanticipated challenges - especially for gay men who never thought they would live into middle and older age. Middle aged and older people are more likely to face multiple co-morbidities, yet many lack the necessary supports to help them adapt to the challenges of aging with HIV. This paper presents the findings of a qualitative study developed to explore gay men's experience of aging with HIV. Multiple in-depth exploratory interviews were conducted with fifteen (15) gay identified men living with HIV/AIDS over an eighteen (18) month period. A systematic strategy data analysis consistent with grounded theory revealed a pattern of subtle adjustments to living with HIV that resulted in diminishing circles of social support and social involvement. This dynamic is referred to as "a shrinking kind of life," an in-vivo code built from the participant's own words. Four themes from the research (physical challenges, a magnitude of loss, internal changes, and stigma) are discussed. Conclusions include recommendations for future research and implications for practice in the field. Practitioners knowledgeable of the factors that impact their social involvement can empower gay men through individual and group interventions to confront a shrinking kind of life and define for themselves what it means to optimally age with HIV.

KEYWORDS: HIV/AIDS; aging; gay aging; social support

Source: US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health


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