"Contagious Love": A Qualitative Study of the Couple Relationships of Ten AIDS Carriers

The Open AIDS Journal 08 Aug 2008 RESEARCH ARTICLE DOI: 10.2174/1874613600802010058


The qualitative study in this article portrays the couple relationship among AIDS carriers, based on Sternberg's triangular love theory (involving domains of intimacy, passion and commitment). The central study hypothesis is that certain components of the Sternberg model will be more significant than others among the AIDS carrier population. The study was conducted on ten AIDS carriers aged 21-37 who had experienced a couple relationship. Six men and four women participated; most of them were in a romantic couple relationship of homosexual orientation.

The interviewees answered a questionnaire that included the three domains-- intimacy, passion and commitment--in the personal interview technique. The interview focused on interviewee's attitude towards his/her relationship with a partner, as he/she understood it. The findings of the study focus on relevant content that was gathered from the interviews and these portray a limited view of couple patterns in the world of AIDS carriers. The study reveals two major findings regarding the carrier's desires: On the one hand, the carrier describes a powerful need for a stable, permanent relationship--from the diagnosis of AIDS and throughout the subsequent years. On the other hand, the carrier also expresses powerful sexual desires that are not necessarily limited to a permanent partner. Thus passion is the dominant among the three domains.

The intimacy domain is mainly affected by disclosure of the disease and the joint coping that follows.

The findings are discussed in the context of the romantic internalized model theory and Sternberg's triangular love theory.

Keywords: AIDS carriers, single-sexual couples, intimacy, passion, commitment..
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