At the beginning of the 21st century, the multidimensional nature of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) pandemic makes it one of humanity’s greatest challenges. Although the HIV/AIDS pandemic has an impact not only on health but on all aspects of the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS, forgiveness has not received much attention in the HIV/AIDS context. Despite the fact that forgiveness has been praised for centuries by most societies and cultures as valuable of adoption, using the word does not necessarily imply that people understand its meaning. The aim of this study is to describe the conceptualisation, meaning for and use of forgiveness of the research participants as people living with HIV. The study draws on social constructionism as a research method. Social constructionism implies that personal constructions regarding forgiveness and unforgiveness are informed by the prevailing social discourses related to forgiveness and HIV/AIDS. For that reason, there are continuous references to social discourses concerning forgiveness and HIV/AIDS that may inform these conceptualisations. Furthermore, the research report is presented as a conversation between the research participants, the researcher, discourses and literature concerning forgiveness and HIV/AIDS. Therefore, the readers are continuously invited to take part in the conversation. So, the study also aims to provide readers with an opportunity to draw on their existing constructions regarding forgiveness and unforgiveness, and to co-create their own constructions regarding the issues under discussion. These descriptions and co-constructions emerged against the backdrop of South African society. The findings of the study are presented as “new constructions”. These new constructions refer to the conversations that developed between the research participants and the researcher, and the conversations that they elicited with the literature. Finally, the researcher evaluates the legitimacy of the study, makes recommendations for further research, and reflects on how she was influenced by the study.
Dissertation (MA (Counselling Psychology))--University of Pretoria, 2007.