Living Positive Queensland Report

In Brief: Living Positive in Queensland: the experience of ageing and social isolation for people living with HIV

Context

This report presents insights from ‘Living Positive in Queensland’ (LPQ), a longitudinal qualitative study (2013-2020) that began with 73 participants living with HIV across Queensland. LPQ was conceived and designed in partnership with community-based HIV organisations and PLHIV to increase understanding of the lived experiences of people with HIV, to inform and improve HIV service provision. Participants were representative of the diversity of PLHIV in Australia in terms of age, gender, ethnicity and socio-economic and employment status.

Key findings

Focus on the biomedical in HIV policy and services has failed to reflect the lived experience and needs of people living long term with HIV in Queensland. This report presents the diverse voices and experiences of PLHIV in Queensland in relation to the key themes:

  • Place and locality: participants’ experiences of living positive in outer suburban, regional and rural Queensland and the role of place in their health and wellbeing.
  • Ageing and older people living with HIV: insights from older participants who have lived long term with HIV, including the intertwining of long-term complex health issues and social disadvantage; health-related uncertainties about the future; and ‘agentic’ practices to maintain function and negotiate complex health issues.
  • Stigma: the pervasive and cumulative impact of individual, intersectional and structural stigmas; and how participants have resisted stigma through individual effort and community and social action.
  • Health and social care: experiences (for many) of accumulated disadvantage and financial precarity; and how shifting biomedical, social, and political contexts and resulting changes in the nature and accessibility of health and social care services impacted participants.
  • Social support and social isolation: participants’ diverse experiences of social isolation, loneliness and disconnection, and the value of micro interactions and peer support for PLHIV.
  • Living through the COVID pandemic: adapting to living with COVID-19, drawn from confidence, knowledge and skills gained from living through the HIV pandemic. COVID-19 amplified existing social isolation and precarity with some participants more disconnected from health and social care. Recommendations The recommendations drawn from the findings target key themes related to addressing social isolation, education, models of care and programs of support and identify important areas of further research.
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