Sexually Transmitted Infections and Intimate Relationships: Exploring Intimate Relationships After Diagnosis Using a Strengths-Based Approach

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Underhill, Angela

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University of Guelph


Very little academic literature has been published regarding the intimate relationship experiences of people living with chronic STIs/HIV. This study aimed to explore the experiences of people living with a STI in an intimate relationship using a strengths-based orientation. 28 Canadians between the ages of 21 to 56 living with a chronic STI/HIV participated in the anonymous, online survey to share their experiences of navigating a committed relationship. Using Braun and Clarke’s (2006) thematic analysis, I identified three themes from the participants’ responses: Contextualized Experiences, Individual Competencies, and Competencies in Intimate Relationship. Bivariate correlations and two multiple regressions were also performed to determine if disclosure status, relationship duration, and/or communication strategies predict Sexual Satisfaction or Relationship Satisfaction. The three communication subscales, Positive Interactions, Criticize/Defend, and Demand/Withdraw were found to significantly predict Sexual Satisfaction together. Relationship Satisfaction was significantly predicted by the Positive Interactions and Criticize/Defend model, and the Criticize/Defend subscale significantly predicted Relationship Satisfaction on its own. Directions for future research and practice are discussed.



sexually transmitted infections, relationships, strengths-based approach, HIV, sexual satisfaction, relationship satisfaction