Non-positive antiretroviral gay bodies
: the production of sexual subjectivities in the realm of HIV prevention in England (1985-2020)

  • Alvaro Martinez-Lacabe

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Using a combination of oral history interviews and archival sources, this thesis analyses the role of antiretroviral drugs for HIV prevention in the lives of gay men in England. Through perspectives on biomedicalisation, governmentality studies and assemblage theory this thesis explores historical processes and philosophical questions regarding the production of sexual subjectivities related to HIV prevention. These processes include the increasing biomedicalisation of HIV prevention. Such biomedicalisation has produced the figure of the non-positive antiretroviral gay body, a concept that is used to frame the following aspects: (i) the question of agency of PrEP users in the context of what has been defined as a biomedical intervention, (ii) practices of freedom framed within neoliberal narratives of personal responsibility versus responsibilisation, and (iii) the governance of risk in the era of biomedicalisation. This thesis also looks at the role of different strands of public health in the implementation of PrEP in England and the role of PrEP activism, which is highly indebted to the activism of the 1980s and the first half of the 1990s, and the production of sites for collective action. Finally, this thesis uses the concept of prefigurative biopolitics as a way to ethically analyse how PrEP politics and activism have contributed or not to the values of egalitarianism and solidarity within the realm of HIV prevention. This thesis concludes that there is an historic opportunity for medicine and biomedical interventions to transform not only bodies and individuals but also societies. However, their success will depend on the democratisation of resources and the will to address inequalities and barriers to health with the same determination that has been present in producing new biomedical forms of care.
    Date of Award18 Dec 2020
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Roehampton
    SupervisorMichael Brown (Director of Studies) & Carrie Hamilton (Co-Supervisor)


    • PrEP
    • HIV activism
    • Sexual actor
    • Oral history

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