AIDS and identity construction: The use of narratives of self-transformation among clients of AIDS service organizations
AuthorGuarino, Honoria M.
AdvisorPhilips, Susan U.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe central objective of this paper is to investigate how the experience of living with HIV/AIDS in the U.S. impacts an individual's sense of identity and to what extent this identity is influenced by the institutional ideologies of AIDS service organizations and the "dominant discourse" of AIDS these organizations help produce. My analysis is based upon three years of participant-observation at Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC), a major AIDS service organization in New York City, as well as in-depth semi-structured interviews with 34 HIV positive individuals, all of whom are clients of either GMHC or another AIDS-related service agency in New York. In addition, I juxtapose the interview-derived speech data of HIVers with an examination of various kinds of textual material about AIDS--written texts that constitute what I characterize as a "dominant discourse" of AIDS. As my primary unit of analysis, I examine the narratives of self-transformation articulated by interviewees, stories that are quite literally about identity reconstruction. Through these narratives, HIV positive individuals construct their HIV diagnosis as a significant turning point in their lives, interpreting this event as an opportunity to refashion themselves into "better" people and to begin their lives anew. Narratives of self-transformation function to rehabilitate HIVers' identities since the new identities many interviewees claim to have achieved after their HIV-impelled journeys of self-reinvention are crafted in accordance with the normative model of HIVer identity established in the dominant discourse.
Degree ProgramGraduate College