"They (ARVs) are my life, without them I'm nothing"—experiences of patients attending a HIV/AIDS clinic in Johannesburg, South Africa

Leah Gilbert, Liz Walker
Health & Place 2009, 15 (4): 1123-9
This paper is a part of a larger study that explores the "social complexity" of antiretroviral therapy (ART), in resource-limited environments. Drawing on in-depth interviews with a sample of 44 patients in an urban HIV/AIDS clinic in Johannesburg, South Africa, this paper examines how people with HIV/AIDS conceptualize their illness and its treatment in this context. The paper concludes that the fear of stigma plays a significant role in patients' experiences throughout the disease trajectory. Yet, demonstrates that there are indications that ARVs are transforming the experience of living with HIV/AIDS and a process of normalisation is taking place. Despite the resource-limited context and, often, lack of family and community support, patients see the ARVs as 'life saving' and express their long-term commitment to adhere to the drug regimen as well as their trust in health professionals.

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