Timing of HIV acquisition and disclosure: a qualitative typology of serodiscordant relationships among heterosexual black African migrant couples in the UK

Mohamed Kemoh Rogers1 and Eamonn McKeown2
1Senior Lecturer in Nursing Sciences (Adult), Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences,
University of East Anglia, Norwich
2Senior Lecturer, School of Health Sciences, City, University of London, UK

Serodiscordant relationships (SdRs) are presented in current HIV literature as relationships with one partner living with HIV. This definition does not consider the transmission trajectories and disclosure of HIV status to sexual partners. In this interpretive phenomenological qualitative study, the significance of the time of HIV acquisition and disclosure to current sexual partners in aiding understanding of SdRs among a cohort of black African migrant couples in the UK is explored. As a human science research project, the emphasis is on deeper understanding of the lived experiences of participants and this involves description, interpretation and self-reflective analysis. An interpretive phenomenological perspective is a particularly appropriate research approach to guide data analysis and subsequent interpretations. Narratives generated through in-depth couple and individual interviews of black Africans in genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics in the UK were analysed through phenomenological reflection and writing. A key overall finding from the research revealed several types of SdRs that are dependent on the timing of HIV acquisition and disclosure in relation to the establishment of relationships. Implications for clinical practice include, providing support and information for black African heterosexual couples living in SdRs, particularly in terms of the potential benefits of greater engagement with both partners, with and without HIV, as a unit.
Keywords: HIV serodiscordant relationships (SdRs), typology of SdRs, black African heterosexual couples