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Publication Type
Conference Proceedings
Author, Analytic
Anderson, Moji
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'It took a piece of me’: liminality and biographical disruption as responses to an HIV diagnosis
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Proceedings Title
First International HIV Social Sciences and Humanities Conference,
Date of Meeting
June 11-13, 2011
Place of Meeting
Durban, South Africa
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Abstract
How do people respond to the news that they are HIV positive? Sociological and anthropological theories were used to answer this question in a study focusing on Caribbean people in the United Kingdom, a group virtually ignored in the HIV literature. Semi-structured interviews with twenty-five HIV-positive participants about their diagnosis experience and its immediate aftermath revealed that diagnosis caused profound shock and distress that in some cases led to maladaptive behaviour. The respondents struggled with ? ?biographical disruption‘‘ (Bury 1982), the radical disjuncture between life before and after diagnosis, which led them into a state of liminality, as they found themselves ? ?betwixt and between‘‘ (Turner 1967) established structural and social identities. Respondents were faced with multifaceted loss: of their known self, their present life, their envisioned future and the partner they had expected to play a role in all of these. Liminality and biographic disruption provide an understanding of theexperience of diagnosis as profoundly ontologically unsettling, and presents the 'diagnosis moment' as one of profound importance that must be considered by those planning interventions to facilitate coping with HIV. This research suggests that healthcare practitioners should attempt to reduce the level of distress by minimising the patient‘s biographical disruption and stay in liminality. This will require not just greater education around HIV away from assumptions around risky groups towards risky behaviour and assurances of a future, but also keen attention to, observation of and engagement with the patient to gauge his/her needs and potential reactions to a positive diagnosis....
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