Community-based health services which provide HIV care in Australia are typically known as 'gay-friendly', but little is known about what this might mean for engaging the broader diversity of people with HIV, particularly heterosexual men. We conducted a secondary analysis of qualitative interviews with key informants and clinicians to capture the meanings attributed to gay-friendly HIV clinics and to explore what these also reveal about the dynamics between sexual identity and HIV care today. Described as safe and welcoming for gay men, and promoting a politics of inclusion, the 'branding' of HIV health services as gay-friendly was also believed to have unintended effects, including the misconception that others are not welcome and that heterosexual men will stay away for fear of being misidentified as gay. Countering this were stories about heterosexual men who had challenged their own assumptions about HIV health services and clinicians who viewed the changing demographics of their patient population as both a challenge and an opportunity. Taking account of the shifting meanings ascribed to HIV health services is essential in responding to the changing needs of the positive community and in understanding the new cultural politics of the waiting room.
- Sexual identity
- Targeted health services