This paper considers the difference that a conception of sex as social practice has made to the relations articulated in HIV social research in Australia. In defining sexual practice as “fluid, embedded in specific social formations, and involving the negotiation of meaning” (Kippax & Stephenson, 2005), social researchers put their own research categories and questions at risk by constructing situations in which their objects of research were given occasions to differ. Taking this risk produced sharp insights about the evolving dynamics of the sexual and prevention fields and produced distinctive, interesting findings. It enabled the articulation of the practice of “negotiated safety” and later strategies of HIV risk reduction emerging from gay men’s practice, for example. I draw on Latour’s (2004) concept of articulation to make sense of these innovations and query some of the key distinctions that organise the field of HIV research: qualitative/quantitative; social/biomedical; subject/object; human/nonhuman; interpretations/evidence. In the present context, I argue that keeping HIV prevention effective, engaging and interesting will require ongoing attention to the embodied articulation of HIV relations.
[This post is the abstract of a paper of mine just submitted to AIDS Education & Prevention. Should be of interest to HIV prevention geeks and potential prevention geeks mainly ; )]