Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Nursing

Dissertation Committee

Mary Rose Mueller, PhD, RN, Chair; Patricia A. Roth, EdD, RN; Susan L. Instone, DNSc, CPNP


descriptive exploratory study, HIV/AIDS, HIV-Positive, LGBTQ+, life partner, men, nursing


HIV disease/AIDS has been the focus of much research since its introduction in 1981 and continues to have profound implications for those living with the disease and for those who are in close social relationships with them. One group that has received minimal attention in the HIV/AIDS literature is gay partners of HIV infected men. The aim of this study was to explore and describe the experiences of gay men living with a life partner who has HIV disease/AIDS who were not primary caregivers. A qualitative study using an interpretive descriptive approach was employed to study the experiences of ten gay men whose partner had HIV disease/AIDS. The study was conducted in a large urban area in one of the western states within the USA, using a purposeful convenience sample. An unstructured interview process was utilized, the interviews transcribed verbatim, analyzed, and themes and patterns developed into a professional narrative conveying the most important findings focusing on clinical implications for nursing practice. Significant findings that emerged from analysis of the study data included: (a) issues of disclosure of HIV serostatus both within and outside of the relationship; (b) influences on daily life including the impact on day-to-day routines and plans, effective coping, perceptions of the future of the relationship, and ways in which the relationship had been enhanced; and (e) perceptions of the healthcare system including care by physicians and care by nurses. Implications for nursing practice included: (a) acknowledgement by the nurse of the role and importance of the participant in the lives of their HIV-positive partner is crucial in establishing rapport and developing a family-centered approach to care; (b) the need to combat the notions of homophobia and heterosexism by introducing the needs of this vulnerable population in early nursing curricula; (e) the ongoing need for education regarding HIV transmission; (d) assisting the study participants in identifying and implementing effective coping interventions by providing emotional support and by including them in their partner's care; (e) assisting the participant in identifying and developing skills and behaviors that will better allow them to "normalize" their lives; and (f) recognition that these participants may need increased community resources to assist in coping as well as integrating into the community as a whole. The results of the study suggest that even though societal views on gay relationships are changing, issues regarding secondary stigma, disclosure, health, and support and education from the healthcare community continue to impact gay men and their partners.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access



Included in

Nursing Commons