Things are moving fast in the world of HIV prevention and sexual practice, with the introduction of new techniques such as Treatment as Prevention and Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (billed as ‘a pill a day to prevent HIV infection’) being purposed for prevention purposes. While the latter is not yet available in Australia, it has been the subject of a whole lot of controversy as well as some very provocative and creative cultural production in North America, including the My Life on PREP series by blogger Jake Sobo, who gives a fascinating account of how his perceptions, experiences, practices and theorisations of risk change as he starts using the drug for HIV prevention. He really accounts for himself as a sexual subject “in process” and the result is both fascinating and informative.
If that wasn’t creative enough, check out this recent Youtube clip, “The Key” adapted from one of Jake Sobo’s blogs, that positions PREP as an intervention into the forms of shame, sexual judgement and aversion to stigmatic identification that circulate in gay male domains like the online world and which could be seen to hamper effective HIV prevention. Most of us know the territory, but as far as confronting these things, it’s been a while since I’ve seen an intervention this bold. There’s much to admire about this clip – the funky beats, the uncompromising confrontation of online dynamics and interaction, and the sharp analysis of how investment in normative ideals of intimacy can precipitate forms of self-deception around risk and sexual practice.
What I am less sure about is the invocation of PREP as THE key - as though an exclusive – way of solving this problem of sexual stigma, shaming and aversion. I have huge admiration for this intervention, and I have also been very interested in the provocative powers of PREP, but I’m keen to hear people’s responses to this clip. How well does it handle your concerns about PREP? What does and doesn’t it deal with? What else might one need to know to consider engaging with this preventive strategy? What issues or concerns does PREP raise for you?