HIV positive men as fathers: Accounts of displacement, ir/responsibility and paternal emergence

Article


Highton, Sean and Finn, M. 2015. HIV positive men as fathers: Accounts of displacement, ir/responsibility and paternal emergence. Health: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health, Illness and Medicine. 20 (3), pp. 291-307.
AuthorsHighton, Sean and Finn, M.
Abstract

It is now apparent that socio-cultural constructions of masculinity variously impact men’s
experiences of their HIV positive status, yet how being a father can feature in this mix
remains under-researched. This study employed in-depth semi-structured interviews and
Foucauldian-informed discourse analysis to explore the accounts of six self-identifying
heterosexual fathers (four black African migrants, two white European) who had been living
with HIV from five to 24 years. While the HIV-related literature calls for the need to subvert
‘traditional’ expressions of masculinity as a means of promoting HIV prevention and HIV
health, we argue that the lived experience for HIV positive men as fathers is more socially,
discursively and thus more psychologically nuanced. We illustrate this by highlighting ways
in which HIV positive men as fathers are not simply making sense of themselves as a HIV
positive man for whom the modern (new) man and father positions are useful strategies for
adapting to HIV and combating associated stigma. Discourses of modern and patriarchal
fatherhoods, a gender-specific discourse of irresponsibility, and the neoliberal conflation of
heath and self-responsibility are also at work in the sense making frames that HIV positive
men, who are also fathers, can variously deploy. Our analysis shows how this discursive mix
can underpin possibilities of often conflicted meaning and identity when living as a man and
father with HIV in the UK, and specifically how discourses of fatherhood and HIV ‘positive’
health can complicate these men’s expressions and inhabitations of masculinity.

JournalHealth: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health, Illness and Medicine
Journal citation20 (3), pp. 291-307
ISSN1461-7196
1363-4593
Year2015
PublisherSAGE Publications
Accepted author manuscript
License
CC BY
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1177/1363459315583157
Publication dates
Print23 Apr 2015
Publication process dates
Deposited30 Jun 2015
Accepted23 Apr 2015
Copyright information© 2015 The Authors
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