Shadows and Sunshine: What Metaphors Reveal About Aging With HIV

Rosanne Beuthin, Laurene Sheilds, Anne Bruce


Using narrative inquiry, the researchers interviewed 5 older adults on 5 occasions over a period of 3.5 years about their experiences of aging with HIV. The participants' stories were analyzed for metaphors. Individual metaphors reveal a complex, unique struggle: living between tensions of uncertainty and hope, facing death and living in the moment, and suffering hurt amidst the joys of evolving identity. The tensions are fluid, although time and life experience facilitate a shift towards reconciliation. An overarching metaphor across this group of survivors is shadows and sunshine: to survive and live in a fragile state, balancing multiple shadows such as stigma and side effects with joyful experiences of support and belonging. The findings suggest that when nurses invite stories of life experience and listen for language used, they build compassion and gain understanding of what support is most needed to honour the personhood of older adults who are HIV-positive.

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