Leisure in the Lives of People with HIV and AIDS: Implications for Leisure Services


  • Christine E. Sausser
  • John Dattilo
  • Beth D. Kivel


Although studies have examined the lives of people with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) (e.g., Beedham & Wilson-Barnett, 1995, Powell-Cope, 1995), no systematic, empirical examinations have been published which specifically investigate the role of leisure in the lives of individuals who have HIV and AIDS. The purpose of this applied research project was to empirically investigate the meaning of leisure in the lives of people who are living with HIV and AIDS.Because there is a lack of research and evaluation addressing any specific group of people with HIV and AIDS related to their leisure, a demographically representative sample was obtained through purposive sampling using maximum-variation (Merriam, 1988; Patton, 1980). Eight volunteers were selected representing relevant subgroups of people who have contracted HIV that included variation in race, gender, and sexual orientation (Sande & Volberding, 1995). An interpretive approach using in-depth interviews and constant comparison analysis was utilized. Initial interviews elicited information regarding activities participated in during free time, for enjoyment, for relaxation, for spiritual purposes, to be social, and for self-expression. In addition, participants’ perceptions of these activities in relation to their HIV or AIDS status were explored. Follow-up interviews, conducted approximately two months after initial interviews, clarified whether specific activities were considered leisure activities and confirmed that the first author’s interpretation of findings from initial interviews accurately represented participants’ experiences. Through coding and memoing of interview transcripts using constant comparative analysis an overarching category was identified: participants’ HIV and/or AIDS (HIV/AIDS) status mediated their leisure perceptions and involvement. In addition, two supporting themes were identified: (a) physical, mental and structural factors influenced participants’ perceptions and involvement in leisure, and (b) participants used leisure to negotiate their perceptions of themselves.





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