‘The old-fashioned way’: conception and sex in serodiscordant relationships after ART Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • This paper explores heterosexual women's accounts of conception and sex within serodiscordant relationships in the period after the advent of Anti-Retroviral Treatment in Australia. It utilises Goffman's theory of stigma and narrative identity theory as a framework for analysis. Six women had planned and conceived pregnancies, four had an unexpected pregnancy and one was attempting to conceive. Accounts of conception usually consisted of a story that involved unprotected sex, once, for the purpose of conceiving. This included what they perceived to be an acceptable risk; one they were willing to take for the desired outcome. Two women gave accounts of artificial insemination. The conception story was usually constructed for the benefit of family and friends aware of the women's status thereby reinforcing the woman's identity as responsible and moral. However, most women revealed their partner did not like condoms and used them sporadically or not at all, directly contradicting the 'conception story'. To justify their actions as informed and responsible, women constructed accounts around low viral load and female-to-male transmission. But a consequence of limited or no condom use was that some women reported worrying about ensuing stigma from their partner's and their families if their partner did seroconvert.

publication date

  • November 2011