We unearth how our story-tellers negotiated and managed everyday life living with this unpredictable illness condition based on in-depth interviews conducted during 2002. These poignant personal stories historically reflect upon long-term experiences of women and men living alongside HIV and AIDS-related illness; they show us how real people made sense of their lives and continued to ‘live out’ everyday life in the UK. It is a thorough and passionate portrayal of personal experiences revealed by the spirited women and men who took time out of their own lives to offer a valuable contribution to further public understanding of this stigmatised disease. By offering insights into different personal experiences of those who have lived long-term with an HIV-positive diagnosis, readers can appreciate and recognise the many ways of being HIV-positive.
Chapter one explores how concepts such as health, illness and identity can be defined and how shared meanings differ between people who use these concepts on a daily basis. It also furnishes the reader with a brief history of HIV and AIDS to set the backdrop for how we should understand the potential dilemmas of living with a HIV-positive diagnosis during earlier more ignorant times. Chapter two reveals how story-tellers learned of their HIV-positive diagnosis. Chapter three examines the early years of living with HIV and explains how our story-tellers managed uncertainty. Chapter four discloses how sickness and health was negotiated and experienced before HIV medicine became more effective.
In chapter five our story-tellers speak of how intimate and sexual relationships are experienced in the context of HIV. Chapters six and seven critically expose how long-term survivors experienced and negotiated complex and highly toxic combination therapies for the treatment of HIV in conjunction with relationships with the medical profession in earlier times. Chapter eight uncovers how networks of social support were negotiated and experienced over time. Following this, we reveal in chapter nine the positive and negative elements of living long-term with HIV or AIDS diagnoses. The final chapter delves into my own experiences as the researcher for the initial HIV study. The book offers an extensive glossary of medical terms at the back to assist readers in medical terms and words associated with HIV and AIDS.