The social/sexual environment of gay men residing in a rural frontier state: Implications for the development of HIV prevention programs

Mark L. Williams, Anne Markey Bowen, Keith J. Horvath

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

75 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Context: The incidence and prevalence of HIV/AIDS is increasing among rural men who have sex with men (MSM). Yet little is known about the social/ sexual environment of rural frontier areas. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to assess the social/sexual environment of gay men living in rural areas and how this environment contributes to the development of HIV/AIDS prevention programs. Methods: A qualitative study was conducted in Wyoming. In-depth guided interviews were conducted with 39 self-identified gay men. Data were analyzed for emergent themes using constant comparative analysis. Findings: Four broadly related themes emerged. Participants perceive that they live in a hostile social environment in which the potential for becoming a target of violence is present. In order to cope with this social reality, men adopt strategies to assimilate into the predominant heterosexual culture and to look for sex partners. These, in turn, are related to their attitudes about HIV/AIDS and prevention activities. Notably, the Internet was discussed by participants as a means for men to connect to a larger gay society and look for sex partners and as a potential venue to HIV/AIDS prevention programs. Conclusions: Data provided a number of implications for developing HIV/AIDS prevention programs targeting rural MSM. Especially apparent was the need for programs to be mindful of the desire to keep one's sexual preferences shielded from public knowledge and the effect this may have on recruiting rural MSM to participate in prevention activities. The Internet, because men can access it privately, might provide a venue for prevention projects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)48-55
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Rural Health
Volume21
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2004
Externally publishedYes

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Social Environment
HIV
Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome
AIDS
Internet
Heterosexuality
social reality
Sexual Minorities
Violence
rural area
incidence
Interviews
violence
Incidence
interview

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health(social science)
  • Health Professions(all)

Cite this

The social/sexual environment of gay men residing in a rural frontier state : Implications for the development of HIV prevention programs. / Williams, Mark L.; Bowen, Anne Markey; Horvath, Keith J.

In: Journal of Rural Health, Vol. 21, No. 1, 12.2004, p. 48-55.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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