Constructing identities to evade stigma in relationships with one partner living with HIV: experiences of Black African Heterosexual couples

Kemoh Rogers

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Through effective use of Anti-HIV medications, minimal risks of HIV transmission possibilities are evident and significant number of relationships containing one partner living with HIV (Serodiscordant Relationships (SdRs)) now exist. However, HIV is still overlaid with non-recovery prospects and associated with unacceptable behaviours such as having multiple sexual partners, engagement in gay sex and drug use. Hence, HIV remains a stigmatising and discrediting condition and couples in SdRs are motivated to construct identities to conceal HIV within their relationships. Nevertheless, how couples construct identities in order to avoid anticipated stigma within SdRs are not evident in current HIV literature. Therefore, this proposed oral presentation focuses on how couples do not unintentionally reveal their true relationships to people who might stigmatise them.
Following multi-centre ethical approval, 25 in-depth interviews were conducted in Genitourinary Medicines (GUM) clinics in London with 19 heterosexual participants in SdRs from Black African backgrounds. Data was analysed through phenomenological reflection and writing. Age of participants ranged 30-58 years (12 females - 30-45, 7 males - 31-58). MAXQDA, a qualitative data analysis software was used for data storage and retrieval.
Significant themes emerged from this study including construction of identities through close regulation of activities within SdRs so that potential stigma is evaded. The proposed presentation shows that multiple SdRs identities are conceivable including protected identity, true identity and false identity through disclosure tactics.
Identities in SdRs is contextualised in terms of liquid modernity, which is an amorphous phenomenon. In this sense, identity of SdRs are transformed from a ‘given’ to a ‘task’ wherein couples take on the responsibility of making their own identities.
Implications for nursing practice
Understanding how couples in SdRs manage their identities has implications for providing support for Black African heterosexual couples, particularly with potential benefits of engagement with both people living with HIV and their partners.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 23 May 2019
Event28th International Conference on Nursing Care
- Vienna, Austria
Duration: 23 May 201924 May 2019


Conference28th International Conference on Nursing Care

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