LOLS@stigma: comedy as activism in the changing times of the HIV epidemic
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This paper examines how, in the midst of changing political times, some characteristics of HIV activism are changing, and suggests the relevance of these shifts for other fields of health activism. Despite the UK achieving UNAIDS’s ‘90–90-90ʹ testing and treatment goals, many in the UK lack upto- date HIV knowledge and retain stigmatising attitudes, and some areas of testing failure remain. In response, people with HIV and HIV organisations are generating imaginative, collaborative projects that indicate effective contemporary forms of health activism may, as other critical health research suggests, be decentred, participatory, multimodal, affective, and implicit. The paper describes a 2016 HIV NGO-run comedy event directed at HIV awareness which was researched via qualitative pre- and post-measures, and two-month follow-up interviews. Findings pointed to strong effects of comedy, as enjoyment and ‘break’ in HIV thinking, feeling, and action; of a one-off event’s emotionality and particularity; and of performance in generating collectivity and HIV citizenship. The paper discusses the potential transferability of these findings to other health activisms, particularly around stigmatised conditions. It argues that such strategies of emotionality, multi-modality, and solidarity in a performance event can work as implicit activism for changing times, generating social change via a doubled politics of resistance and alterity.
SponsorshipKwa-Africa; Public Health England. Innovative Prevention Fund
Taylor and Francis, Routledge