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AIDS Educ Prev. 1995;7(5 Suppl):64-79.

GMHC volunteers and the challenges and hopes for the second decade of AIDS.

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Graduate School and University Center, CUNY, New York 10036, USA.


A documentation of the impact of AIDS on New York City during the first decade of the epidemic must highlight the extraordinary responses of the Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) and other community-based organizations. Data collected from volunteers (n = 587) at the close of this decade are presented to address concerns about how successfully an organization such as GMHC will be able to confront the challenging future of the epidemic. Questionnaire data on demographics and prior AIDS experiences and responses to a GMHC Reasons for Volunteering Scale, developed for this study through exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis strategies, are brought to bear on questions about the (1) diversity of the volunteer community, (2) the extent to which volunteers are burdened by potentially debilitating AIDS-related experiences, and (3) the promise for the continued effective and inspirational functioning of GMHC suggested by volunteers' reasons for choosing to volunteer at this time. Volunteers, 62% of whom are gay men and 28% are heterosexual women, represent a wide age range but little diversity in race/ethnicity and educational background. They arrive at GMHC 8 years after its founding with a slight majority having had significant prior experience with HIV-related events. There are six basic kinds of reasons for their volunteering, in order of importance: Joining the AIDS Cause, Personal Growth, Social Contact, Helping the Gay Family, Coping with AIDS, and Career Enhancement.

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