What prompts an individual who has had a positive HIV diagnosis to undergo the transition from a limiting life narrative to an empowering life narrative? With HIV positive individuals living longer lives, it is important that individuals are able to integrate the HIV/AIDS identity into their sense of self and life narrative. Diagnosis of HIV creates a shocking rupture within an individual’s life narrative. Integrating the HIV/AIDS identity requires a shift away from a life narrative that initially limits HIV positive individuals from having a positive outlook on the self and life. This qualitative study incorporates a narrative interview approach to understand what events and experiences prompt an HIV positive individual to transition from a limiting life narrative to an empowering life narrative. Narrative interviews were conducted with 3 HIV positive individuals who have utilized HIV resources available at the Blue Roof Life Space located in the Wentworth township of Durban, South Africa. The results from these interviews showed that while there is a similar progression of phases that HIV positive individuals, as a collective community, go through while incorporating HIV into their life narrative, the events that take place within this timeline are greatly varied based on each individual’s societal context. These results will continue to refine our understanding on the relation between chronic illness and the composition of life narratives at an individual level.
This study would not have been possible without the guidance, support, and advice from Clive Bruzas, Eliza Govender, and staff at the Blue Roof Life Space. As my initial advisor, Clive aided in my thought process of formulating a research question based on my personal interests and experience visiting Blue Roof for the first time. As my main project advisor, Eliza gave me specific advice on ways to analyze and organize the data that I collected. A huge thank you to the staff at the Blue Roof Life Space who opened up their hearts and their center to a number of SIT students. Rhona Buckley served as the main advisor at Blue Roof who helped organize the logistics behind conducting this research project. Another huge source of support and guidance came from Gail Richards, a hard working, passionate, community leader in the Wentworth area who also did a great deal of logistical organizing for the research project. I am incredibly grateful for the warm welcome and unconditional love and support received from Blue Roof and the Wentworth community. Finally, I offer my deepest gratitude to the individuals who agreed to participate in my study. Each individual shared their life stories in an open, candid, and honest manner that allowed for the compilation of rich narrative interviews.
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