Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Boring HIV?

Elizabeth Pisani has written an excellent piece in the Guardian today on the latest proposals around HIV. She's also written a wonderful book called 'The Wisdom of Whores' a couple of years back which I heartily recommend to everyone - a really engaging analysis of the HIV issue. For me, Pisani is an expert who speaks a lot of common sense, and seems to 'get' the reasons HIV rates continue to rise (and openly explains them). Whilst AIDS in her words, has 'virtually disappeared' in the UK, HIV rates continue to rise. She comments in the Guardian piece that:

'One reason for [...the rise in HIV infection rates] is that gay men use condoms less now than they did when HIV = Aids = a horrible death. Now, though, HIV = a pill every day. Boring, but not the end of the world, unless you're the taxpayer ­picking up the tab for it or the epidemiologist worrying that drug-resistant strains of HIV will reignite Aids.'

The the full article here. The first part of what she is saying is essentially the same argument I make, along with a wider queer analysis of HIV transmission and the broader barebacking phenomenon in an article due out later this year in The Journal of Criminal Law. Many guys prefer it 'raw', we may or may not get HIV and if we do, we don't die provided we take the meds, what's the big deal? Well the big deal is potentially costs to the taxpayer etc, not to mention various moral questions but lets at least be open and have an honest debate. The article is called 'Barebacking and the Cult of 'Violence': Queering the Criminal Law' and I've pasted in the abstract below. I'm expecting the article to annoy quite a few people but all I'll say is please wait for the final publication (should be June/July) and then let's debate.

This article seeks to revisit the law in relation to the sexual phenomenon of barebacking. Drawing upon queer theory, this article will seek to critically evaluate the development of the criminal law in relation to the practice of ‘unsafe’ sex by men with other men, known as barebacking, along with the broader casting of the judiciary as sexual custos mores. It will argue that the present heteronormative legal and cultural framework largely reflects a focus upon the ‘good gay’, de-sexed and constructed within a rights discourse, in contrast to Stychin’s ‘bad queer’, sexual and defiant of a narrow heteronormative rights agenda, and embracing ‘unsafe’ and ‘deviant’ sexual practices.

This article seeks to move the analysis of the criminal law on from the doctrinal debates that have dominated thus far, and onto a more theoretical exposition of the criminal law regarding barebacking as erotic play.

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