Positive sex and risk : Social and sexual negotiation with HIV
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
Modern society has been termed a 'risk-society', one in which risks are produced and become incorporated as parts of our daily lives. The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is one risk that can be identified and centred within the body of the HIV positive person, resulting in a 'self-management' role for that person. Increasing regulation and control over the HIV 'positive body' paradoxically increases the risks for the positive man and their sexual partner. This thesis explores how ten HIV positive men negotiate their social and sexual practices in the context of a risk society. Semi-structured interviews, within a paradigm of qualitative research, were held with ten HIV positive men during May 1999. A thematic analysis illuminated a series of social tensions that exist for these men. A sociology of risk provided a theoretical framework in the analysis of these tensions. This thesis argues that risk can be individualised when identified in our society. The HIV positive body is localised as 'risk' and as such becomes a focus of increasing regulation and control. Such control places the positive person in new situations of risk. This study adds to a growing mass of social research into the living experiences of New Zealanders living with HIV, and an increasing international literature in the sociology of risk. Social closure, social pressure and living with uncertainty are tensions that highlight the use of a sociological perspective of risk in HIV social research. An inclusive approach to the social and biomedical issues faced by HIV positive people is essential. A series of social tensions operate alongside of the bio-medical treatment discourse for these ten HIV positive men today. Further areas of research are suggested.