Get access

A Preliminary Examination of Sexual Orientation as a Social Vulnerability for Experiencing HIV-/AIDS-Related Stigma


  • This research was supported by a National Institute of Mental Health Grant (RO1 MH 066848, “Rural Ecology and Coping with HIV Stigma”) that was obtained by Sondra E. Solomon and Carol T. Miller. The work was also supported by a National Institute of Mental Health Diversity Supplement (1 R01 MH076629-01) awarded to Adam Gonzalez. The authors thank all of the members of the Person Environment Zone Projects, especially Tracy Nyerges and Susan E. Richardson, for their efforts with data collection and management.

Sondra E. Solomon or Carol T. Miller, 2 Colchester Avenue, Psychology Department, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05401. E-mail: or


This investigation is a preliminary examination of sexual orientation as a social vulnerability for experiencing HIV-/AIDS-related stigma, specifically concerns about disclosure and public attitudes. Participants were 36 heterosexual men and 82 gay men with HIV/AIDS. Consistent with predictions, a heterosexual sexual orientation was significantly associated with HIV/AIDS disclosure concerns. This effect was evident after controlling for various demographic variables, CD4 T-cell count, time since HIV diagnosis, self-esteem, and coping styles. Also as predicted, similar levels of enacted stigma were evident, regardless of sexual orientation. Further work is needed to understand the process of HIV/AIDS disclosure for heterosexual men with this illness and to differentiate the experience of HIV-/AIDS-related stigma among gay and straight men with HIV/AIDS.