Date of Award

2009

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Computing, Health and Science

First Advisor

Dr Sonya Girdler

Abstract

The number of heterosexual men presenting with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is steadily increasing in Australia. A paucity of literature currently exists surrounding the experience of living with HIV for heterosexual men, with most information targeted towards gay men, injecting drug users (IDUs) and women. This narrative literature review examines the body of knowledge concerning the experiences of heterosexual men living with HIV. The findings of this review indicate that for heterosexual men, HIV significantly impacts on their physical, psychological and social well being. In particular, they struggle with social and intimate relationships, negotiating disclosure, managing their stigmatised identity, and accessing both medical and non-medical services. A lack of understanding of the experience of heterosexual men living with HIV has undoubtedly constrained the development of appropriate interventions for this group. As HIV has developed into a chronic condition, it is crucial to identify the type of support services required by different populations presenting with HIV and target these services accordingly. Knowledge gained through this review will further guide decisions for service providers, policy makers, and health professionals concerned with meeting the needs of heterosexual men living with HIV. It will also assist heterosexual men themselves in understanding how to live with HIV. Over the past decade, Australia has witnessed a progressive increase in the number of new Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) diagnoses, particularly amongst heterosexual men. While a considerable body of research has examined the experiences and service needs of HIV positive gay men, injecting drug users and women, there is a paucity of research examining the experiences of heterosexual men who are HIV positive. This paper presents the results of a phenomenological study which aimed to explore the experience of living with HIV for heterosexual men. In-depth interviews were conducted with five self-identifying heterosexual men who were HIV positive. Thematic analysis of interview data revealed three main themes in participants' experiences: shock at receiving a positive diagnosis, struggling to accept and deal with positive diagnosis, and learning to live with HIV. The findings highlight the uniqueness of the experience of living with HIV for heterosexual men and support the need for more targeted services to be developed for these men. Knowledge gained from this study will further guide decisions for service providers, policy makers, and health professionals concerned with meeting the needs of heterosexual men living with HIV. It will also assist heterosexual men themselves in understanding how to live with HIV.

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