People living with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) have a difficult time integrating this part of their self-image into their overall identity. The primary question for this research was, "What model describes the social identity development of people living with HIV in South Africa?" The models for other social identities, specifically the Cass model for homosexual identity development and Braithwaite's model for disabled identity development, form the basis of analysis for HIV identity development. In this study, two rounds of focus groups were conducted. The first to gather initial data on the experience of participants living with HIV, the second to confirm the analysis of the data conducted in the first round of focus groups. Participants were asked open-ended questions in a focus group setting on their process of acceptance with regards to their HIV status. The result was a Model of HIV+ Identity Development that can be used to help persons going through this process of identity development. In the final findings four phases of HIV identity development were identified: Phase 1: Denial and Confusion Phase 2: Information intake and Processing Phase 3: Incorporation into an HIV Culture/ Empowerment Phase 4: Experiencing AIDS The social identity development models created by Cass and Braithwaite put into context the information gathered from the focus group discussions. Their models helped to identify the relevance of the raw material. This research has several practical applications in the enhancement of support group curriculum, programs, and policies created to assist people living with HIV and AIDS.
Wright, Ja Dawn J., "An exploration into social identity development of people living with HIV and AIDS in South Africa" (2004). Capstone Collection. 108.