A naturalistic study design using ethnographic interviews was employed to elicit data about the phenomenon of being a long-term survivor of AIDS from 14 men and 6 women. Data were generated through multiple intensive open-ended interviews, demographic data sheets, and self-reported CD4 counts. Data were analyzed using latent and manifest content analysis techniques and the method of constant comparison. One of the dimensions that emerged from the data was "being in relation to others," the complex set of interpersonal relationships that have been renegotiated to maintain the reconstructed life. Specific ways of being in relation to others included dealing with one's family, renegotiating the friendship group, helping others with HIV, and developing a relationship with a higher power. The results of this study have implications for counseling people with HIV disease, and for nursing actions to enhance social support in this vulnerable group.
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