Can a pill prevent HIV? Negotiating the biomedicalisation of HIV prevention

Young, I. , Flowers, P. and McDaid, L. (2016) Can a pill prevent HIV? Negotiating the biomedicalisation of HIV prevention. Sociology of Health and Illness, 38(3), pp. 411-425. (doi: 10.1111/1467-9566.12372) (PMID:26498141) (PMCID:PMC5102670)

108138.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.



This article examines how biomedicalisation is encountered, responded to and negotiated within and in relation to new biomedical forms of HIV prevention. We draw on exploratory focus group discussions on Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and treatment as prevention (TasP) to examine how the processes of biomedicalisation are affected by and affect the diverse experiences of communities who have been epidemiologically framed as ‘vulnerable’ to HIV and towards whom PrEP and TasP will most likely be targeted. We found that participants were largely critical of the perceived commodification of HIV prevention as seen through PrEP, although this was in tension with the construction of being medical consumers by potential PrEP candidates. We also found how deeply entrenched forms of HIV stigma and homophobia can shape and obfuscate the consumption and management of HIV-related knowledge. Finally, we found that rather than seeing TasP or PrEP as ‘liberating’ through reduced levels of infectiousness or risk of transmission, social and legal requirements of responsibility in relation to HIV risk reinforced unequal forms of biomedical self-governance. Overall, we found that the stratifying processes of biomedicalisation will have significant implications in how TasP, PrEP and HIV prevention more generally are negotiated.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Young, Dr Ingrid and Flowers, Professor Paul and McDaid, Professor Lisa
Authors: Young, I., Flowers, P., and McDaid, L.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
Journal Name:Sociology of Health and Illness
Publisher:Wiley Online
ISSN (Online):1467-9566
Published Online:26 October 2015
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2015 The Authors
First Published:First published in Sociology of Health and Illness 2015
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

University Staff: Request a correction | Enlighten Editors: Update this record

Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
656571Sexual Health and Families ProgrammeLisa McdaidMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_12017/2IHW - MRC/CSO SPHU
727631SPHSU Core Renewal: Relationships & Health Improvement Research ProgrammeLisa McDaidMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_12017/11IHW - MRC/CSO SPHU