HIV/AIDS and the Older Adult : An Exploratory Study of the Age-related Differences in Access to Medical and Social Services

Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Scholarly level: 
Graduate student (Masters)
Date created: 
Older people
Medical care
Services for the elderly
Gay community

This was an exploratory study investigating age-related differences in access to medical and social services among individuals infected with HIV/AIDS. Its primary purpose was to investigate the experiences that older adults with HIV/AIDS have had with accessing HIV/AIDS-related medical and social services and to compare their experiences to those of infected younger adults. The study also investigated the perceptions that younger and older adults have about the need to, or value of, providing specific medical and social services for older infected adults in order to understand current and future service needs and potential service accessibility issues.


Data were collected from 34 in-depth interviews and findings allowed for both quantitative and qualitative analysis. The Student's t-test was employed to evaluate age group differences in access and descriptive analyses were used to supplement and elaborate on the statistical analyses. The older adult's ability to access services was evaluated by addressing predisposing, enabling and need variables in addition to characteristics associated with the medical and social service systems.


The Student's t-test revealed that older adults accessed fewer medical services, health information sources and social organizations compared to younger aged adults. However, they accessed a similar number of social and emotional supports compared to younger aged adults, and reported fewer barriers to accessing services compared to younger adults. Descriptive analyses revealed that infected older adults had positive experiences accessing both health care professionals and organizations, and that they accessed a variety of HIV/AIDS-specific and non-specific social organizations. HIV/AIDS-related stereotypes held by the gay community limited the older adults' access to services to some degree. Younger adults however, experienced similar stereotypes.


Through qualitative analysis, three major themes explained the findings of this study: the older adults maintained an independent and forthright attitude about service access, had a comprehensive knowledge of their infection and available services and they resided in a service rich geographic area.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
Copyright remains with the author. The author granted permission for the file to be printed, and for the text to be copied and pasted.
Senior supervisor: 
Gloria Gutman
Arts & Social Sciences: Gerontology
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.A.