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Intimacy, support and social connectivity: experiences of HIV serodiscordant relationships among black African people living in England

In: A Persson, S. D Hughes (Eds.) Cross Cultural Perspectives on Couples with Mixed HIV Status: Beyond Positive/ Negative. Springer, London 2017 (pp. 111-124)

Authors: Adam Bourne, John Owuor, Catherine Dodds

This book chapter explores the evolution and social context of sero-discordant relationships among Black African people in England, including how HIV infection is acknowledged and discussed within and outside of a relationship and the bearing this has on the formation of diverse relational intimacies. Sixty Black African people with current or recent experience of an HIV sero-discordant relationship took part in interviews that explored HIV diagnosis as well as disclosure and ongoing communication about HIV to romantic partners and others. 

The invisibility of other African people in secure, sero-discordant relationships meant it was often hard for study participants to conceptualise their own relationship as viable. Both partners needed time to come to terms with HIV as a part of their lives, and while some had managed to successfully integrate it into their relationship, many also stressed a desire for HIV not to cast a shadow over everything. Most participants emphasised the primary importance attached to their involvement in migrant African social structures that facilitated and enhanced daily life. At the same time, the extensive HIV-related stigma within relational, family and community contexts posed a threat to their social support networks. Those who felt the need to conceal their HIV status from sexual partners and others with whom they had shared their lives were almost always deprived of some degree of intimacy which they had previously relied on or enjoyed. The findings highlight the significant role that diverse intimacies play in developing and maintaining health and well-being among people affected by HIV.

For a full copy of the chapter please email Adam Bourne

Copyright: Springer International Publishing, Switzerland 2017

Available from libraries only.