University of Hertfordshire

By the same authors

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Original languageEnglish
JournalCulture, Health and Sexuality
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020


PrEP, pre-exposure prophylaxis, is a novel HIV prevention strategy. Highly efficacious, its development and delivery has caused significant debate. This paper explores the ways in which PrEP is signified and some of the new identities it gives rise to through the analysis of PrEP discourses among ‘bugchasers’. Bugchasers comprise a niche group of gay men who eroticise HIV and fantasise with or seek to get infected. The research explores how bugchasers negatively conceptualise PrEP as a barrier to thrill and masculinity and discusses PrEP as a positive intervention that allows them to understand their own desires for risk-taking. Finally, it addresses a new identity position, the ‘poz pleaser’ who identifies as a bugchaser yet uses PrEP. Findings link to current debates about PrEP meanings and signification by using bugchasing as a niche yet illustrative example of how men make sense of this intervention based on their existing frameworks. Discussion highlights how this helps us understand how people make sense of biomedical interventions, the importance of emotional ‘side effects’, and the development of new identity positions. In so doing, it advances existing work on PrEP signification and contributes to ongoing debates about bugchasing.


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