The First Five: Narratives on Thriving With HIV

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Brooks, Marcus
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Middle Tennessee State University
The current study seeks to provide insight into the lives of newly diagnosed HIV-positive gay men living in the southern United States. This work investigates how six gay men with HIV navigate healthcare and social service infrastructures, negotiate disclosures, manage stigma, and work to maintain a healthy sense of themselves by engaging in adaptive coping mechanisms within the first five years post diagnosis. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews. Interviews were organized to excavate descriptive information on three dimensions particularly salient to overall wellness: Access to Care, Social Support, and Well-Being. Narratives from these men describe an intersectional positioning where people with access and ability to utilize resources can expect minimal issues achieving and maintaining viral suppression. Data also show that social support from close friends and community integration in the form of activism and education help the men overcome expected and enacted stigma concerning HIV infection. Further ethnographic research can seek to investigate these dimensions of wellness over the life course or utilize similar methodology to investigate other demographic cohorts.
AIDS, HIV, Intersectionality, Qualitative, Social Support, Well Being