Community, responsibility and culpability: HIV risk-management amongst Scottish gay men

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This paper draws upon a qualitative study of Scottish gay men's understandings of HIV testing to explore the importance and changing understandings of ‘community’ within gay men's HIV risk-management. Nineteen men took part in one-to-one interviews, and 18 men took part in focus group discussions concerning HIV testing, HIV status and HIV risk-management. These discussions were subsequently analysed for recurrent themes using Interpretive Phenomenlogical Analysis. We focus on the ways in which new health technologies have afforded a process of ‘othering’: creating the social exclusion of known or assumed HIV positive men, and thus contributing to the fragmenting of the gay community. Further, we argue that, through shifting HIV avoidance mechanisms from their originally collective level to that of the individual, such technologies have had the unintended consequence of facilitating inadequate lay constructions of risk-management, potentially putting gay men at risk of HIV infection.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)285-300
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Community and Applied Social Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2000


  • gay men
  • HIV testing
  • interpretive phenomenological analysis


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