‘Personal Communities’, ‘Hidden Solidarities’, and HIV Testing Technologies

Boydell, N. , Buston, K. and McDaid, L. (2015) ‘Personal Communities’, ‘Hidden Solidarities’, and HIV Testing Technologies. In: British Sociological Association Annual Conference 2015, Glasgow, 15-17 April 2015, (Unpublished)

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Collective responses to HIV have been important to the establishment of safer sex practices and successful HIV prevention among gay men. However, some have noted the changing role of gay communities in HIV prevention, where a ‘loss of community’ may have implications for future HIV prevention (Davis, 2008). This paper explores the ‘hidden solidarities’ articulated by young gay and bisexual men through their accounts of their personal, social relationships with friends within their ‘personal communities’ (Holt, 2011; Spencer & Pahl, 2006). Based on analysis of data drawn from interviews with 30 gay and bisexual men, aged 18-29 years and living in various regions of Scotland, I explore the ways in which affective ties between the young men and their friends, and shared understandings of sexual risk, shape and inform their responses to both the concept, and practice, of ‘safer sex’. By extending conceptions of ‘safer sex’ beyond well-rehearsed ideas of condom use, I provide insight into the men’s accounts of the social practices of HIV testing. I suggest that some young men actively challenge and resist the idea of HIV testing as a wholly individual event, at times harnessing digital media to ‘collectivise’ HIV testing, bringing together groups of friends to ‘test together’. This serves to emphasise the continuing importance of solidarity and support among young gay men, a perspective I will take into discussion of ‘gay community’ and, the less visible, ‘personal communities’.

Item Type:Conference Proceedings
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Boydell, Dr Nicola and McDaid, Professor Lisa and Buston, Dr Katie
Authors: Boydell, N., Buston, K., and McDaid, L.
Subjects:H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
Research Group:MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit

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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