Social workers play a pivotal role in HIV-seropositive patients’ treatment and care within South African public antiretroviral treatment (ART) programs. This article is a reflective log of an HIV-seropositive social worker’s observations and reflections on her positionality during a study on HIV-seropositive patients’ experiences of the public ART program in eThekwini, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The primary investigator (PI) utilized various tools and techniques including reflexive bracketing, participatory action research and a reflexive diary to navigate a sensitive study. This was while being cognizant of the fluidity of her insider/outsider positionality. The disclosure of the PI’s HIV-seropositive status culminated in all the participants accepting her despite some social workers’ wariness of a study interrogating patients’ experiences. Such disclosure was aimed at creating a warm, transparent research environment where participants felt comfortable sharing significant and sensitive information on their experiences while interacting with social workers. In conclusion, the PI’s disclosure and transparency on her positionality could facilitate opportunities for other HIV-seropositive social workers to openly engage in trustworthy HIV research studies. This is aimed at facilitating and promoting patient-centered care, destigmatizing the disease, and bridging research gaps.


HIV, AIDS, social work, ART, positionality, reflexivity, reflective log

Author Bio(s)

Delarise Maud Mulqueeny is a senior lecturer at the University of Zululand. Please direct correspondence to delarisemulqueeny@gmail.com.


I would like to acknowledge the two research assistants who were on this project.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
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