“Something that is so simple to experience and control, yet difficult to share and defend”: HIV/Aids, secrets and sociability in an on-line social network

Éverson de Brito Damasceno Lumena Cristina de Assunção Cortez Fábbio de Souza Ferreira Mercês de Fátima dos Santos Silva Lucas Pereira de Melo About the authors

Recent research in the field of social anthropology has highlighted the influence of social media on the experiences of people living with long-term illnesses. A virtual ethnography involving people living with HIV/Aids (PLHIV) who are members of a secret Facebook group was conducted over a period of 11 months. The study aimed to gain an insight into the social practices adopted by PLHIV through the observation and analysis of posts and comments. The results show that the members foster a welcoming attitude and mutual help. We also discuss the selective nature of these practices, which are measured by moral judgments and shame arising from the sexual and/or moral panic that marked the beginnings of the epidemic, unveiling continuities between the online and offline worlds.

Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome; HIV; Internet; Experience with illness; Mutual help

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