Putting forward the hypothetical HIV: What are the problems?

qualitative study

This study was conducted by Dr. Stephen Philpott and his team at Kirby Institute University in Sydney (Australia) and published in the Journal of Health. Sociology of health and disease Before it is seized aid. This is a qualitative study with interviews with five HIV-positive, gay or bisexual Australian men. The participants were all white. The median age was 33 years (26 to 50 years). English was their first language and they all had a college education and had no difficulty getting care and treatment. Furthermore, all participants had an undetectable viral load and ensured that publicly declaring their HIV status would not have a significant impact on their daily lives.

In response to a question from Seronet, Dr. Stephen Philpott identifies that the lack of diversity in retained profiles is one of the limitations of the study: “Participants cited in the review had very good HIV monitoring and undetectable viral load. They were also active members in the community of people living with HIV who are involved in political activism and HIV associations.” The researcher explains that it was more difficult to reach people away from care and associations: “Many people are not as comfortable with their HIV status as our participants and are less likely to use social media to advertise their HIV status. What about non-whites?” “In Australia, the HIV epidemic is now affecting foreign-born gay and bisexual men in non-English speaking countries, so we made a special effort to try to recruit more participants from these communities,” Dr. Philpott explains. “With the help of community associations, we targeted These guys and we were able to recruit some of them, but it took time and resources. This is a hard-to-reach demographic,” the researcher acknowledges.

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Take back control

Why announce your HIV status on social networks like Facebook or Instagram? One of the main reasons participants mentioned was to regain control of their history with HIV. For many people, discovering their HIV status is an ordeal, even a shock. Once the discovery stage has passed and the treatment is put in place, the advertising stage comes. Who will you say? At what time ? For some, saying so in public can cut any rumors down, or even a file a picnic (The fact that a third person discloses the seropositivity instead of the person concerned without their consent.)

Ojos, 28, remembers the time the clinic secretary forced him to reveal his HIV status: “In my Facebook message, I was controlling who I could talk to on this call to the Secretariat, and I had to say that while I was He wasn’t comfortable talking about it.” Flynn, 27, recounts what happened to one of his HIV-positive friends who was revealed to be HIV positive in the media without his consent: “His life became absolute hell, as he witnessed rumors about his life and people commenting on his story.” He told me that more His regret is that he can’t control his story.”

The parameters of social networks allow you to choose the audience to which you are addressing. On Facebook, it is possible to select groups of people (families, colleagues, acquaintances, close friends, etc.). The same on Instagram with a “close friend” filter or on Twitter with the possibility of having a private account. While three of the five participants chose to declare their HIV status to all participants; Two decided to restrict their audience. Despite this caveat, participants acknowledged that they had no control over how their posts would be published later. It’s a golden rule on social media: what’s posted doesn’t belong to us anymore. Anyone can take a screenshot of the post and share it via private message, email, Whatsapp, etc.

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Participants had mainly positive reactions when they announced their HIV status via social networks. However, fear of stigma, rumors, or fearful comments about HIV generated anxiety. “It stopped going out and it restricted my social interactions (…). My biggest fear was people coming to me,” Flynn says.

The participants agreed that this form of Out Via social networks it was not necessarily suitable for the closest people such as family members or close friends. “I went out to my mother with HIV by text and later told me she would have preferred to have this kind of discussion in person. I took his feedback into account and made sure my family members heard about her over the phone rather than on Facebook. I think it’s more personal and more respectful. Angus admits.

(Re) get out of the closet

measurement with Out LGBT+ is often mentioned by people who declare their HIV status, especially when they are people who have already done so, which is the case of the participants in this study. For 50-year-old Dexter, getting off HIV was liberating to get out of his “HIV locker” of shame: “When I was told I had HIV, she was advised to keep it for me. But it didn’t suit me.” So I started writing this blog and posted it on Facebook. I am very open about my HIV infection.”

For the participants, the fact that a person’s HIV status is publicly announced is also an active work aimed at modifying society’s representations of HIV and giving strength and hope to other people living with HIV. Percy, 26: “One evening, I said to myself that I really wanted to raise awareness and fight stigma. I had HIV with a Facebook status. I didn’t want it to be a secret anymore. But more than an outgoing, I wanted to send messages. It has changed.” HIV. Create your future. Don’t let HIV stand in your way.”

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For Jasper, publicizing his HIV status on social media saved him from the “dramatic” side that sometimes happens in this kind of situation when dealing with someone who still thinks HIV is equivalent to the death penalty: the weight of the advertisement with the destination Often considered outdated for HIV. It forces you to sit up and prepare for the painful moment. Saying that on social networks, I give more lightness to this announcement. It’s more like saying “It’s part of my life now” rather than “I have something terrible to tell you.”

In conclusion, the study authors explained that advertising their HIV status on social networks had a double positive effect on the participants. On a personal level, it allowed them to “express and reformulate their identities” and shed the “weight of secrecy”. On a collective level, this has made it possible to combat the representation that HIV is necessarily associated with “unpleasant, private and difficult information”.

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About the Author: Irene Alves

"Bacon ninja. Guru do álcool. Explorador orgulhoso. Ávido entusiasta da cultura pop."

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