HIV and identity: The experience of AIDS support group members who unexpectedly tested HIV negative in Uganda

Janet Seeley, Martin Mbonye, Nelly Ogunde, Isaiah Kalanzi, Brent Wolff, Alex Coutinho

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15 Citations (Scopus)


Living with HIV, for many of those infected, has meant adjusting to life with a stigmatised condition and, until recently, the threat of looming death. We explore the adjustment of a group of long-term former clients of The AIDS Support Organisation (TASO) in Uganda who, when tested for HIV during the rollout of antiretroviral therapy in 2004, were found to be HIV negative. In-depth semi-structured interviews with 34 former TASO clients were conducted between 2005 and 2007. Their narratives reveal a great deal about the biographical disruption they have faced, and the biographical work that they have undertaken in both the personal and the social dimensions of their lives in order to manage their new-found HIV-uninfected status. After the negative test result, as they were no longer HIV-infected, they had to leave TASO and that support was sorely missed, as was the friendship of TASO members to whom they often felt reluctant to disclose their new status. The identity 'reversal' or change was often handled privately. Compared with their transition to an HIV-positive identity, they now lacked a social dimension to their identity transformation as they managed their new identity in the face of self- and public doubt.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)330-344
Number of pages15
JournalSociology of Health & Illness
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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