School for Social Work
This research study will explore the experiences of ten gay men living with AIDS. Gay men with AIDS are a unique group in part because they are doubly stigmatized. Due to their sexual orientation, they have commonly experienced condemnation and marginalization, often from early on in their lives. My question for this study is: How does this particular group of men enduring this unique disease and treatment find and define their individual spirituality and sense of meaning as they face end of life issues? This qualitative research study used an exploratory, flexible methods design. I interviewed 10 gay men with AIDS to hear their story. I asked participants what they do in their daily lives that helps them cope with there illness. The data from this study translated to several major themes. This involved a conscious effort for the individual to maintain a strict medial regime of taking medications while also attempting to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Other themes that emerged where were about previous losses, authenticity, fear, isolation and intimacy and finally spirituality and meaning. The stigma of having AIDS was felt on a daily basis by all participants. Spirituality as a source of strength beyond the psychical and social realities of their disease was an underlying but also dominant theme throughout the interviews.
Beene, Jerry Dale, "The living and spiritual experiences of gay men with AIDS : an exploratory study" (2008). Masters Thesis, Smith College, Northampton, MA.