Brent Cagle, Ph.D.


Social Work


College of Arts and Sciences


Social Work


Using an intersectionality framework, this qualitative study explores how stigma affects identity development and how intersecting identities can compound to either foster resiliency or create health concerns for 11 men who are emerging adults (18-29), same sex identified, African American, HIV +, and homeless. Semi-structured one-on-one interviews were conducted through RAIN (Regional Aids Interfaith Network) in Charlotte, NC. Questions were formulated to understand how participants view themselves and perceived stigmas, current/past health conditions, and their five to ten year prospects. This study uses grounded theory as a guide to analyze and interpret data. Themes explored include: risks (acquiring HIV through homeless status), biographical disruptions, and self-acceptance as a foundation to resiliency through self-empowerment. All participants in this study displayed resilient behaviors post-diagnosis to present, even those who experienced the worse “biographical disruptions.” Participants all spoke about being a survivor of sorts. I found that, for my participants, owning one’s identity created a buffer against the adverse effects of stigma.