Theses Doctoral

"I'm not fragile like the new-age kids," aging positively and reducing risk among older adults with HIV/AIDS; a qualitative and quantitative exploration

McCullagh, Charlotte

The proportion of HIV-positive people over the age of 50 is increasing rapidly in New York City. An estimated half of those living with HIV are over 50. While many are long-term survivors, reflecting the transformation of HIV from a life-threatening illness to a chronic disease—due to the advent of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) in 1996—others are newly diagnosed or newly infected. However, relatively few studies have examined how older adults with HIV/AIDS are aging well, and whether these strategies are associated with a reduction in risk behaviors.

To address these gaps, paper one, using a basic qualitative research methodology and constructivist grounded theory analysis approach, had two related objectives: (1) to explore the lived experience of men over 50 with HIV/AIDS in New York City; (2) to examine the ways in which individuals have aged successfully. Based on the findings of the aforementioned paper, paper two and paper three, using the Research on Older Adults with HIV/AIDS (ROAH) data set, determined if loneliness predicted condomless sex in the past three months and chemsex (paper 2) and if loneliness predicted a reduced CD4 count and substance use in the past three months. Using the three-paper model, the following dissertation sheds new insight into how older adults age well with HIV/AIDS but finds that loneliness does not predict negative health and risk behaviors in this group. The dissertation does, however, highlight other avenues for research, policy and practice based on the results.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Social Work
Thesis Advisors
El-Bassel, Nabila
Wu, Elwin
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
January 19, 2022