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Qualitative Health Research: Negotiating Life with HIV/AIDS

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In this paper, I look at the use of qualitative methods in health geography. I focus on two projects using in-depth interviews with people with HIV/AIDS. Drawing from feminist work on qualitative methodologies and the production of knowledge, two questions are posed. First, what insights do interviews offer about people's daily experiences with HIV/AIDS? Second, given that interviews involve direct contact between interviewer and respondent, what are the implications of using this methodology? Projects reveal that living with HIV/AIDS involves a complex series of negotiations. These include negotiating one's own identity within medical discourse, dealing with health care professionals, and choosing how to use medication. The projects also indicate that qualitative research itself involves a process of negotiation. Researchers' preconceptions, interview settings and formats, and relationships established during research can effect research outcomes andresearch participants. I argue that a willingness to reflect critically on the use of qualitative methods is needed to safeguard against these unintended consequences.

Keywords: HIV/AIDS; Qualitative methods; health; in-depth interviews

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Southern California

Publication date: May 1, 1999


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