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Strange bedfellows: bridging the worlds of academia, public health and the sex industry to improve sexual health outcomes

By 17 June 2011

The public health response to sexually transmitted infections, particularly HIV, has been and continues to be overwhelmingly focused on risk, disease and negative outcomes of sex, while avoiding discussion of positive motivations for sex (e.g. pleasure, desire, love). Recent advocacy efforts have challenged this approach and organisations have promoted the eroticisation of safer sex, especially in the context of HIV prevention. This paper is a case study of one of these organizations – The Pleasure Project. It gives a brief background on the public-health approach to sex and sexual health, and recommends an alternative approach which incorporates constructs of pleasure and desire into sexual health interventions. The Pleasure Project’s aims and unorthodox communications strategies are described, as are the response to and impact of its work, lessons learned and ongoing challenges to its approach.

Title: Strange bedfellows: bridging the worlds of academia, public health and the sex industry to improve sexual health outcomes Author: Wendy Knerr and Anne Philpott Year: 2011