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In patients with symptomatic HIV disease, spirituality emerged from stigmatisation and having an incurable disease

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Question How do people with advanced (symptomatic) HIV disease structure spiritual meaning?


Interpretive interactionism.




5 men and 5 women aged 32–38 years who had symptomatic HIV disease (CD4 count <300) and identified themselves as having had spiritual or religious experiences that helped them to cope with their disease. 6 were European-American, 2 were Mexican-American, 1 was African-American, and 1 was Native-American.


During 2–3 hours of interviews, patients were asked to describe spiritual experiences and beliefs that helped them deal with HIV and to explain how these experiences changed their lives or their views of the meaning of their illness. Interviews were audiotaped and transcribed verbatim. Data were collapsed into themes over 3 iterations. Findings were corroborated by patients at initial and follow up interviews. Study patients and the staff …

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  • Source of funding: not stated.

  • For correspondence: Dr B A Hall, University of Texas at Austin, School of Nursing, Austin, Texas 78712, USA. Fax +1 512 475 9179.