Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

D. Patricia Gray

Second Advisor

JoLynne Robins

Third Advisor

Nancy McCain

Fourth Advisor

Daniel Nixon


The purpose of this qualitative descriptive study was to develop a greater clarity of how HIV infected individuals live and work within the sphere of HIV infection as represented through unsolicited, personal narratives posted on blogs. Existing, single author, personal blogs were identified via a search engine. Blogs were defined as the blog author's postings and all responses, whether written by the blog author or a reader respondent. Inclusion and exclusion criteria were developed to respect indicators of bloggers' intentions for privacy, e.g., blogs which required a password were excluded. A total of 14 blogs met inclusion criteria. Actions to promote validity focused on the areas of credibility, authenticity, criticality, and integrity. Throughout the blogs, online social connectedness formed the context for expression of the four themes identified to describe the experiences of the bloggers and their readers living with HIV infection. Suffering was the human experience of stigma related to living with HIV infection. This was primarily manifested in either self-imposed isolation or isolation resulting from rejection by others. Relationships addressed both the online and offline/in-person interactions experienced by the blog authors and their readers. These stories were predominantly about receiving support from persons via online interactions. Daily living with HIV dialogue addressed the common experiences shared by various bloggers and their readers such as longing for normalcy. A call to action addressed a self-embraced sense of mission or purpose which was a contributing impetus to blog. Blog readers affirmed these missions in their responses. While these themes have been documented in prior qualitative research on living with HIV infection, the opportunities for online social connectedness altered the expression of these themes. Further research using unsolicited narrative blogs is warranted.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

December 2011

Included in

Nursing Commons