The New Cultural Politics of the Waiting Room: Straight Men, Gay-Friendly Clinics and ‘Inclusive’ HIV Care
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Community-based health services which provide HIV care in Australia are typically known as ‘gay-friendly’, but little is known about what this might mean for engaging the broader diversity of people with HIV, particularly heterosexual men. We conducted a secondary analysis of qualitative interviews with key informants and clinicians to capture the meanings attributed to gay-friendly HIV clinics and to explore what these also reveal about the dynamics between sexual identity and HIV care today. Described as safe and welcoming for gay men, and promoting a politics of inclusion, the ‘branding’ of HIV health services as gay-friendly was also believed to have unintended effects, including the misconception that others are not welcome and that heterosexual men will stay away for fear of being misidentified as gay. Countering this were stories about heterosexual men who had challenged their own assumptions about HIV health services and clinicians who viewed the changing demographics of their patient population as both a challenge and an opportunity. Taking account of the shifting meanings ascribed to HIV health services is essential in responding to the changing needs of the positive community and in understanding the new cultural politics of the waiting room.
KeywordsHIV/AIDS Targeted health services Sexual identity Inclusion Australia
Many thanks to the clinicians and key informants who agreed to take part in interviews for this project. Thanks also to our Expert Committee members including Ms. Levinia Crooks AM, Mr. Ian Watts, Dr. Ronald McCoy, Ms. Linda Forbes, Mr. Tim Stern, Dr. Catherine Pell, Mr. Scott Lockhart, Dr. Jeanne Ellard (who also conducted some of the interviews), Dr. Max Hopwood, Dr. Mark Bloch, Associate Professor Marilyn McMurchie OAM, Dr. William Donohue and Dr. David Ellis. Associate Professor Jonathan Anderson provided early contributions to the project design and funding applications. Participant recruitment was facilitated by Mr. David McGuigan (formerly) of the Australasian Society for HIV Medicine, Mr. Sönke Tremper of General Practice Victoria Ltd. and Mr. Stephen Lambert of HIV & HCV Education Projects at the School of Medicine, The University of Queensland. This study was funded by a Project Grant (568632) from the Australian Government’s National Health and Medical Research Council and the Straightpoz Study by the New South Wales Department of Health (RM05076). In addition to competitive grant funding schemes, National Centre in HIV Social Research projects are partly or fully funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing. Thank you to Mr. Jake Rance for his advice on earlier drafts of this manuscript. Thanks finally to the Investigators who gave us permission to access the data for the purpose of this combined analysis. In addition to Dr. Christy Newman and Professor Michael Kidd AM, this includes Professor John de Wit, Emeritus Professor Susan Kippax, Associate Professor Robert Reynolds and Mr. Peter Canavan; we very much appreciate the feedback they provided on this manuscript.
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