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An exploration of how individuals living with PAHIV experience and make sense of reaching adulthood

Ruddick, S. (2017). An exploration of how individuals living with PAHIV experience and make sense of reaching adulthood. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


Due to highly active anti-retroviral therapy (HAART) becoming available to perinatally acquired HIV positive (PAHIV+) individuals early in their lives, they were given the opportunity to live much longer than those born before them, with many now reaching adulthood. Literature suggests PAHIV positive adults may have faced stressors which increase chances of developing mental health problems for example, familial death, family disruption, stigma and negative environmental characteristics. Additionally, PAHIV+ adults live with the knowledge they have a sexually transmissible infection, even if they have never had sex, suggesting the chance of unique psychological challenges for this cohort. Semi-structured interviews were conducted between May and June 2015 with 8 PAHIV+ participant’s (five females, three males) aged 23 – 29 years, who attend an HIV charitable organisation. Interviews were analysed utilising Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). This research aimed to illuminate and make sense of PAHIV+ individual’s experience of reaching adulthood. One overarching theme; ‘Evolving journey’ and five super-ordinate themes; ‘The changing responsibility of self’, ‘Reflecting on a difficult childhood’, ‘The stigma barrier’, ‘Development of sense of self’ and ‘Managing uncertainty’ were found. An interpretation of the participant’s experience is presented in the final analysis. These findings have important implications for all HCP’s supporting the psychosocial needs of PAHIV+ adults. Applicability of findings to the field of Counselling Psychology and considerations for future research are considered.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine
Departments: Doctoral Theses
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > School of Health & Psychological Sciences Doctoral Theses
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