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Between hope and abandonment: black queer collectivity and the affective labour of biomedicalised HIV prevention.

Authors
  • van Doorn, Niels
Type
Published Article
Journal
Culture, health & sexuality
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2012
Volume
14
Issue
7
Pages
827–840
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1080/13691058.2012.700325
PMID: 22800648
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

This paper investigates how current transformations in HIV prevention in the USA are intensifying a logic of viral containment rooted in biomedicine and behavioural science, in order to curb the recent rise in new HIV infections, predominantly among young African-American 'men who have sex with men'. Based on fieldwork in Baltimore, I examine how this paradigm shift is translated into concrete prevention activities that focus on HIV testing and treatment. By attending to the affective labour performed by members of Baltimore's Ballroom scene - a kinship system of black queer youth structured around competitive dance and performance - I show how the emergent 'Test & Treat' approach becomes a polyvalent object that attracts a host of optimistic investments in collective and individual prosperity, which nevertheless threaten to remain unrequited. Finally, I argue that the current move towards a biomedically mediated model of viral management depoliticises the struggle against HIV by suggesting that we can treat our way out of an epidemic that in fact remains intricately interwoven with racialised violence against the queer, the poor and the otherwise dispossessed.

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