A life where concealment and exposure coexist—The antiretroviral therapy adherence of people living with HIV infection: A phenomenological study

Sun A. Lee, Eun Y. Kim, Sung O. Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Aim: The aim of this study is to identify the nature and structure of the real world experiences of people living with HIV infection and adhering to antiretroviral therapy (ART). Design: Giorgi's phenomenological method was applied. Methods: Data collection was conducted from 1 November 2016–1 September 2017. A total of six participants participated in the study. The Consolidated Criteria for Reporting Qualitative Research (COREQ) was used to report this study. Results: The findings show that the structure of the experience of people living with HIV and adhering to ART is composed of six essential common constituents: (a) ART adherence has become a prerequisite for a normal life; (b) Endless adjustments responding to a sensitive body; (c) Dosing Time becomes the framework of the day; (d) Dosing time needing to coincide with the availability of confidential dosing space; (e) Classification of Relationships—those who know of my taking antiretroviral drugs and those who do not; and (f) Recognition of the multiple relationships affecting ART. Conclusion: Adhering to ART is experienced by people infected with HIV not only as a process they want to hide, but also a critical lifeline that stabilizes their lives. That is, their day-to-day living is split into a double life reflecting their coexisting need for concealment and exposure. Impact: Although much existing literature focuses on the adherence to medication, this study reveals the meaning of ART in the context of viewing the patient as an independent subject. Contrary with what people living with HIV want, they are at risk of external exposure during the process of treatment. This study highlights the need for nurses to communicate with patients about the strategies they need to meet the challenges they face.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Advanced Nursing
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020 Jan 1



  • adherence
  • antiretroviral therapy
  • HIV
  • nursing
  • phenomenology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)

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