Seroconversion Narratives in AIDS Prevention (SNAP)

NOTE: This study has ended.

HIV+ individuals have an important role in the prevention of new HIV infections. The SNAP study elicited HIV+ gay/bisexual men’s narratives describing their own seroconversion to determine if the individual, interpersonal and structural attributions in these narratives are related to current risk behavior for HIV transmission.

A seroconversion narrative (a person’s story about becoming HIV+) may be a useful tool in developing counseling interventions for helping HIV+ persons to prevent HIV transmission. What actually happened is less important than the story each individual chooses to tell and how he tells his story. Narrative Therapy is based on the idea that exploration and modification of people’s stories (narratives) can lead to behavior change.

Research Questions

  • What are the common/recurrent themes in narratives of recently seroconverted gay/bisexual men?
  • Is there a relationship between men’s understanding of how they became HIV+ and their current prevention practices?
  • How can these findings be used to improve the effectiveness of counseling and other interventions to prevent HIV transmission?


We recruited participants from community-based ASOs (AIDS Service Organizations) in San Francisco that provided services for HIV+ gay and bisexual men. All interviews were conducted at a centrally located San Francisco ASO. Interviews lasted 1.5 to 2 hours. Please read more about our recruitment and sample interview questions.


Please read more about our selected key findings. Below are some key lessons from SNAP.

  • Our first lesson was that a diverse group of gay and bisexual men recently infected with HIV were willing to participate in an in-depth interview regarding their seroconversion event, and that nearly all of the men could produce a coherent narrative rich in contextual detail. This supports the feasibility of narrative interview research with this population.
  • Themes and prevention types drawn from the narratives provide a picture of the types of issues men are experiencing at the time of infection, and may suggest specific vulnerabilities that could be addressed in intervention (e.g. times of loss or transition).
  • Prevention types describe the wide range and multiple combinations of strategies that men engage in to avoid infecting others, and reinforce the repeated finding that most HIV+ persons do make some effort to prevent transmitting HIV to others.

For a more detailed look at the SNAP project, please see the Science-to-Community Report on SNAP.

SNAP Research Team

Olga Grinstead, PhD, MPH; Nicholas Alvarado, MPH; Ellen Goldstein, MA; William J. Woods, PhD; Jason Euren


We would like to acknowledge and thank our study participants for sharing their stories with us.

This study was funded by the Universitywide AIDS Research Program (UARP), University of California, Office of the President

Last modified: October 22, 2012