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J Natl Med Assoc. 2000 Sep;92(9):436-44.

Late middle-aged and older men living with HIV/AIDS: race differences in coping, social support, and psychological distress.

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  • 1Center for AIDS Intervention Research, Athens, USA.


Although AIDS mental health research has recently devoted more attention to the psychosocial needs of older adults living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) disease, studies of this population have typically combined older African-American and white participants into one large sample, thereby neglecting potential race differences. The current study examined race differences in stressor burden, ways of coping, social support, and psychological distress among late middle-aged and older men living with HIV/AIDS. Self-administered surveys were completed by 72 men living with HIV/AIDS in New York City and Milwaukee, WI (mean age = 53.4 years). Older African-American and white men experienced comparable levels of stress associated with AIDS-related discrimination, AIDS-related bereavement, financial dilemmas, lack of information and support, relationship difficulties, and domestic problems. However, in responses to these stressors, older African-American men more frequently engaged in adaptive coping strategies, such as greater positive reappraisal and a stronger resolve that their future would be better. Compared to their African-American counterparts, HIV-infected older white men reported elevated levels of depression, anxiety, interpersonal hostility, and somatization. African-American men also received more support from family members and were less likely to disclose their HIV serostatus to close friends. As AIDS becomes more common among older adults, mental health-interventions will increasingly be needed for this group. The development of intervention programs for this group should pay close attention to race-related differences in sociodemographic, psychosocial, and behavioral characteristics.

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