Discipline for Pleasure: A New Governmentality for HIV Prevention

Tony Joakim Sandset*, Kaspar Villadsen, Kristin Heggen, Eivind Engebretsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


This article explores recent HIV prevention campaigns for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), focusing on how they integrate pleasure and desire in their calls for self-discipline through a continual use of pharmaceuticals. This emerging type of health promotion, here represented by ads promoting the preventive use of pharmaceuticals, no longer simply approaches target groups with demands to abstain from harmful substances or practices and thus control risks, but also includes messages that recognize individuals’ habits, values, and their desires for pleasure. Drawing on Foucault’s work concerning discipline and security, we suggest that a novel, permissive discipline is emerging in contemporary HIV prevention. Further guided by Barthes’s theory of images, we analyse posters used in prevention campaigns, scrutinizing their culture-specific imagery and linguistic messages, i.e. how the words and images interact. We conclude that these campaigns introduce a new temporality of prevention, one centred on pleasure through the pre-emption and planning that PrEP enables.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages26
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sep 2021

Bibliographical note

Epub ahead of print. Published online: 30. September 2021.


  • Security
  • PrEP
  • Foucault
  • Discipline
  • Pleasure
  • Sex

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