Queer theory, digital technologies and HIV prevention: The HIVe model for improving access to health and human rights

Year: 2012

Author: Walsh, Christopher S, Singh, Gurmit

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


During the last decade, networked and digital technologies have transformed the sexual and social behaviours and practices of many gay men, other men that have sex with men (MSM) and transgenders. While digital technologies have undoubtedly increased the possibilities for high-risk sexual behaviours, (Rosser et al., 2009; Benotsch et al., 2002; Kim et al., 2002) they are equally powerful tools for sexual health and community mobilisation. Yet, simply deploying these technologies for HIV prevention does not ameliorate the vulnerabilities and lack of access to education and sexual, legal and health rights that put these communities at personal risk of HIV infection in the first place. This presentation highlights the unique ways The HIVe—a new dynamic model—stimulates  ongoing systems-wide strategic collaboration among HIV education, research, policy and practice sectors to harnesses digital technologies to put HIV prevention education back on the agenda.

The HIVe is an open source universal access research and education community that continuously grows by sharing effective digital community-based and led HIV prevention and care interventions for gay men, other men that have sex with men (MSM), transgenders and other communities disproportionately at risk of HIV.  We first present the model's conceptual design that enacts HIV prevention through digitally mediated and driven sexual behaviours.  We will then outline how The HIVe model provided face-to-face and online mentoring to assist community-based organisations write up their digital HIV preventions into articles published in an international peer-reviewed journal. By facilitating in the sharing of successful digital HIV interventions, now and into the future, The HIVe hopes to stimulate policy and practice change through community mobilisation by constructing assets and exchanging resources to challenge stigma and discrimination, and improve human rights with the aim of stopping new infections.

The presentation highlights how 'building the HIVe' is a queer endeavour based on a digressive politics of resistance (Morris, 1998).  It breaks the silence and remembers that HIV prevention—alongside biomedical approaches—still work. Our queer politics critically examines the discursive strategies of the powerful biomedical HIV and AIDS culture to illuminate how they have produced the field of HIV prevention to focus on 'treatment as prevention'.  A queer digression that shares successful approaches is needed to guarantee more funding can be allocated toward designing community-based and led prevention as a solution in a digital era. Simply put, prevention works and we do not want this truth to be forgotten or trivialised.