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J Psychoactive Drugs. 1989 Oct-Dec;21(4):387-93.

AIDS and chemical dependency: special issues and treatment barriers for gay and bisexual men.

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  • 1Harvard Medical School, Brookline, Massachusetts.


Because gay and bisexual men continue to be the largest at-risk group for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) related conditions, the special role of substance abuse, and not just intravenous drug abuse, must be understood in order to provide adequate services and prevention. Gay men and women appear to have a higher incidence of substance abuse than the general population. Genetic, biochemical, societal, and cultural factors may all contribute to this increase, especially the overwhelming impact of societal homophobia. To address the treatment barriers to gay and bisexual men seeking or needing treatment for HIV-related conditions, chemical dependence or both, the gay community should be seen like any other minority community. The social and cultural norms of this widely varied community should be studied: the socialization of being gay in mainstream society, including the awareness of being different; the coming-out process; and dealing with internalized homophobia need to be understood. In addition, the resistance or anxiety health care providers may feel in working with gay or bisexual men or with HIV-related conditions should be addressed.

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