Treatment, Adherence, and Self-Preservation

Laura D. Stanley

in AIDS, Culture, and Gay Men

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print March 2010 | ISBN: 9780813034317
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813039312 | DOI:
Treatment, Adherence, and Self-Preservation

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This chapter examines why many gay men with HIV infection do not adhere fully, or at all, in taking their prescribed medications. Based on in-depth interviews, it shows that many gay men are reluctant to give up their personal autonomy. They often equate the authoritarianism of the medical establishment with the homophobia they have experienced in their own lives. By employing holistic forms of healing, they can assert their personal autonomy. Many of these HIV-positive men consider conventional HIV therapies “disempowering” and a greater threat to their long-term survival than the disease itself. In the study, sixteen of the twenty men had started combination therapy; four had decided not to take any medications. Of the sixteen taking medications, nine men admitted to intentionally skipping doses. The men who were most careful about adherence had all suffered a serious AIDS-related complication. This chapter examines the psychosocial costs of treatment and why HIV-positive men would deliberately choose adherence strategies most would consider maladaptive.

Keywords: HIV infection; AIDS; gay men; personal autonomy; combination therapy; adherence; psychosocial costs; treatment

Chapter.  7365 words. 

Subjects: Sociology

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