Currently in the United States, gay men are the highest risk group for contagion of the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) virus. This study's hypothesis was that AIDS will have a detrimental impact on the continuing coming-out process for gay men. A questionnaire was distributed to a diverse array of sources in the greater Portland metropolitan area. Of the four hundred questionnaires distributed, there were 103 respondents to this survey yielding a 26% return rate. The dominant composition of this respondent group was Caucasian, middle class, and well-educated; having white collar or skilled occupations; in the 25-39 age range and residing in the Portland, Oregon metropolitan area. A vast majority of the respondents identified themselves as exclusively or predominately gay (95%), as satisfied with their sexual identity (89%), and as satisfied with the number of people who knew about their sexual orientation (72%). Over one-half had some form of psychotherapy in the last five years (51%) and nearly one-half (48%) were currently in an ongoing, committed relationship.
The data supported the hypothesis that AIDS does have a detrimental impact on the coming-out process for gay men. Ninety-nine percent of the respondents indicated their feelings were affected by AIDS with 76% of this group rating the impact of AIDS as strong to completely upsetting to their lives. Ninety-three percent of the respondents knew at least one person who had died from AIDS and 73% of this group rated this impact as strong to completely upsetting. Fifty-six percent of all the respondents stated that AIDS does have a detrimental impact on their coming out process. Of this group, 70% stated they would probably withhold disclosure about themselves while 30% stated they would probably engage in premature disclosure. Since the data ' shows AIDS does have a detrimental impact, the need for more research on the psychological impact of the virus and the availability of mental health services is vital.
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