Monday, February 29, 2016

Risk-Managed: A Biopolitical Diary Entry

Medicine in Canada changed this weekend. Proprietary Truvada has been approved for Pre-exposure Prophylaxis purposes for preventing HIV-1 infections (but not HIV-2, FTR). Very soon, if not already, private insurance plans will be covering PrEP prescriptions for Canadians at high risk of contracting HIV. I do think the decision is a benefit to HIV prevention efforts, but I had a visceral/existential reaction to the news for few reasons.

A) My personal effort paid off. I co-wrote a letter to the federal and provincial Health Ministries on behalf of the Carleton University Graduate Students' Association to ensure Health Canada didn't include the homophobic policy addendum that queer men could receive a PrEP prescription on demand, which some US states have on the books.

B) PrEP's administration made me actually feel biopolitics stripping a layer of ignorance and privilege off of me. Public policy decisions were made that will have an impact on the physical security of my body. Had I not been a personally effective advocate, my opinion would never have been asked.

Imma break it down. I'm a slutty condom enthusiast; the guys I fuck are a Truvada's ideal customers. I was never super worried about HIV; the bacterial infections are usually what I'm trying not to catch. Now that PrEP is approved, I'm nervous that the group of guys who I sleep with are going to ill-advisedly swap condoms for PrEP, putting me at increased risk for bacterial sexually transmitted infections. Oh and someone who diligently took his meds has now contracted HIV despite, so there's that too.

Thank fucking god queer dudes can't just ask for PrEP in Canada. My anxiety is bad enough as is. The doctor between the patient and the prescription is my only peace of mind. My sex life gets theoretically less safe with each injudicious PrEP prescription. I hope that Canadian doctors can rise above racism and homophobia in their clinical practice and impart and asses HIV risk prudently. I have no choice but to believe in the system chosen for me.

It's obviously completely different, but throughout my activism around PrEP, I felt exasperation that women must feel when their reproductive autonomy is challenged. A small group of people got to make decisions for "a problem group". These decisions have bodily implications for me, but likely not for those making the decisions. Disconnected authorities make policies about or for the body, but disregard the person. Through all of this thinking, I came to the distillation of privilege as never being in the "problem groups" that need to be regulated.

The sexual context of PrEP certainly articulates it as more privileged than the biopolitical contexts of (dis)ability, incarceration, immigration, and reproduction. However, I will not waste the experience. I raged as I parsed through tropes of nuanced homophobia, racism, and neoliberalism from organizations and friends I stand in solidarity with most times. I was/am proud that I spoke up for my biological security without being asked, and I am nervous about what this public policy will mean for me. I have realized that I am passionate about social change that prioritizes condom culture, scientific literacy, and self-love, and I am excited to integrate these themes into creative work.

I think I feel a costume coming on...

PS: Fuck yeah, Germany. These rockstars effectively cured HIV!!!

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