Reconstructing Self and Others: Managing an HIV-Antibody Positive Status
Reading Erving Goffman's seminal work, Stigma, one immediately recognizes the predicament of AIDS in the stories of people with other stigmatizing conditions. Taking Goffman's writings on stigma as a general guide, this chapter illustrates the manner in which HIV/AIDS operates to restructure social relations between the infected and others. On the other, the specificities of AIDS, namely the collapsing of illness within an already stigmatized sexuality, leads us to some elaborations upon Goffman's theme. Unless an individual is already linked into the formal networks of HIV-positive people that have been built up around AIDS organizations, the first networks that will be affected by a diagnosis of HIV, and that an individual will in turn seek support from, are those of friends and family. Because of the stigma attached to homosexuality in Australian society, most gay men have problematic relationships with their families.