Gay Men, Syphilis, and HIV

Frederick R. Bloom, Jami S. Leichliter, David K. Whittier and Janet W. Mcgrath

in AIDS, Culture, and Gay Men

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print March 2010 | ISBN: 9780813034317
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813039312 | DOI:
Gay Men, Syphilis, and HIV

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Responses to sexually transmitted diseases have included considerable efforts by governments, communities, individuals, health care advocates, and public health systems. In the past twenty years, this included the notable example of HIV prevention, but it also includes prevention of herpes simplex virus—type 2 (HSV2), syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and others. Following the initial onslaught of HIV among gay men in the United States, gay men, as individuals or members of communities, have taken steps to reduce sexual risk by changing their behaviors and often expecting those changes to be adopted by others. This resulted in a normative change that set a moral imperative extolling those who were “safer,” while exerting social control on others who were not. This chapter examines how social stress within the American gay community has elevated both syphilis and HIV rates. Some of the social responses have been flight, isolation, blame (or scapegoating), and ostracism. Drug use often puts some gay men at increased risk for HIV infection and syphilis. The chapter looks at responses that decrease the biological impact of social stress.

Keywords: HIV infection; syphilis; gay men; social stress; biological impact; public health systems; isolation; HIV prevention; ostracism; drug use

Chapter.  8024 words. 

Subjects: Sociology

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