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Title: Support and interaction for people living with HIV
Author: Chapman, E.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 1999
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This thesis examines the impact of symbolic and instrumental stigma in touch interactions between people living with HIV and their supporters. The important role which the body plays in the perception of these physical contacts is highlighted through a material-discourse orientation and a reconceptualization of support as touch. Two levels of analysis are adopted throughout: the macro level of representations and negative images impacting on social support; and the micro level of body experience and touch influencing psychological well-being. Social representations theory provides an important framework for this topic, showing how constructions of health, illness, HIV, and associated imagery create a sense of Otherness around the person with HIV which is reflected in the body, and in a sense of tactile hunger. This focus on discourse and representations is counter-balanced by an experiential perspective on the body, gained through using interview data and a repertory grid technique. Results, in a longitudinal design, showed that the 18 HIV-positive participants perceived their bodies more negatively than the 15 HIV-negative supporters. This had a detrimental influence on psychological well-being and quality of life, as measured by the GHQ-28. Participants in the HIV-positive group also expressed a significantly greater desire for more physical contact that those in the HIV-negative group. The longitudinal data show that negative body image moderated somewhat over the time period, but that the tactile hunger expressed by the HIV-positive group remained a significant issue. These findings are discussed in terms of physical and representational aspects of the body, symbolic and instrumental stigma, and touch in support interactions. The importance of continuing support for people living with HIV, the impact of new treatments to contain the action of the virus within the body, and the role of these in moderating tactile hunger are further stressed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available