However, while these studies mostly document negative experiences, such as stigma and discrimination, little is known about the social adaptations to living with HIV in everyday life, particularly with regard to dating, marriage, and parenthood.The present article reports on findings from a qualitative research study that examined the social lives of a group of HIV-positive heterosexual Puerto Rican men in Boston, Massachusetts.Focusing on HIV-positive heterosexual men is important not only because of the potential for transmission across different populations (Volz, Frost, Rothenberg, & Meyers, 2010), but also because of the conflict between society’s negative view of the reproductive intentions and sexuality of HIV-positive persons and their own desires for sexual intimacy, marriage, and parenthood (Segurado & Paiva, 2007; Sherr & Barry, 2004).A chronic illness disrupts an individual’s everyday life (Charmaz, 2000; Conrad, 1987; see also Bury, 1982).The advent of highly active antiretroviral therapy transformed the HIV experience of illness restoring individuals’ ability to live normal lives managing HIV as a chronic illness.Research has extensively documented the experiences of illness of people living with HIV/AIDS.Implied by these questions, the scope of research focuses on studying and interpreting how people move forward after receiving the diagnosis of an chronic illness, an orientation not only concerned with an individual’s life with illness, but one that recognizes the diversity of experiences as well (Thorne & Paterson, 2000; see also Conrad, 1987; Pierret, 2003).The impact of illness on everyday life has been the focus of many studies that examine the adjustments people make when facing an incurable illness (Nack, 2008; Shaul, 2012; Townsend, 2011; see also Charmaz, 2000; Larsen, 2013).
Unlike other groups, the principal mode of HIV transmission among Puerto Rican men is injection drug use (56%); only 20% of HIV-positive Puerto Rican men identified sex with other men as the mode of infection (MDPH, 2007).
Corresponding Author: Francisco Sastre, Center for Substance Abuse and AIDS Research on Latinos in the United States, Florida International University, 11200 SW 8th Street, PCA 355A, Miami, FL 33199, USA.
Despite challenges, an HIV diagnosis does not preclude dating, marrying, or having a family.
An important prevailing body of research on the chronic illness experience has studied the changes people living with chronic illness make to achieve “normalcy” after being diagnosed (Joachim & Acorn, 2000; Miedema, Hamilton, & Easley, 2007; Millen & Walker, 2001).
Joachim and Acorn (2000) conceive normalizing as the strategies people use to cope and feel like a part of society “rising above their chronic condition and its limitations to create a life that is normal for them and even inspirational for others” (p. This body of research demonstrates that people with chronic illness follow an adjustment process that involves strategies (Royer, 1995) for redefining a that coincides with the level of functioning determined by the condition.