The University of New South WalesNational Centre in HIV Social Research


12–13 April 2012
The University of New South Wales


The National Centre in HIV Social Research (NCHSR) hosted 'silence&articulation' the 12th Social Research Conference on HIV, Hepatitis and Related Diseases (HHARD) at The University of New South Wales 12–13 April, 2012. The HHARD conference is integral to Australia’s efforts in understanding the social and behavioural dynamics of blood-borne viral epidemics and sexually transmissible infections. The biennial conference invites researchers, health professionals, policy-makers and community members from across a variety of fields to engage with research and practice with a multi-disciplinary perspective.

How society understands and approaches stigmatised illnesses, sexualities and illicit drug use has evolved significantly over the past two decades towards a greater emphasis on human rights, non-discrimination and informed debate. One important reason for this shift has been the diversification of voices that contribute to the production of knowledge, such as medical scientists, social researchers, political activists, policy-makers, media, clinicians, public health advocates and affected communities. These voices have not only highlighted and challenged prejudices and ignorance, but have also given rise to discourses that define risks, priority populations, prevention and treatment strategies in relation to blood-borne viruses, drug use and sexual health. What counts as evidence, knowledge and facts in these discourses are not neutral, but depend on a range of social, political and institutional agendas, priorities, interests and established practices. Like any knowledge system, certain ideas and meanings are emphasised and authorised, while others are excluded or sidelined because they are deemed objectionable, incorrect, unhelpful, or dangerous. The aim of this conference is to consider what can and can’t be said about HIV, hepatitis C, drug use and sexual practices; what is emphasised and what is muted, what is seen as acceptable and unacceptable, and what such silences and articulations achieve and why.

Delegates were encouraged to address the following questions in relation to HIV, hepatitis C, drug use and sexual practices:

  • How are sexual and drug use ‘risks’ defined by different stakeholders? To what extent do these definitions correspond or compete, and what are the implications for health promotion and prevention when certain definitions of risk are obscured or not talked about at all?
  • What kinds of silences exist in research? What is missing from medical, epidemiological and social research? How do competing understandings in research advance (or not) our knowledge about HIV, hepatitis, drug use and sexual practices?
  • How do particular forms of articulation, including silence, about sex and drugs affect people’s lived experiences? How do these contribute to a sense of identity and belonging, to stigma and discrimination, understandings of risk, and decisions around disclosure or treatment?
  • How are experiences of receiving treatment for HIV, hepatitis C, or drug use articulated (or not) by researchers, health care workers, affected communities, and policy makers? What is prioritised and why in different articulations, and what are the implications for these various stakeholders?
  • What kind of silences and articulations are at play in health promotion, prevention and policy and why?

We also invited speakers to address other significant social research issues in HIV, hepatitis C, sexuality and drug use.

M2012: 7th International Conference on Microbicides 'From discovery to delivery'

This four day conference followed the HHARD conference and was held 15–18 April at the Sydney Convention Centre, Darling Harbour.  Reduced registration rates were offered to delegates who attended both the HHARD and Microbicides Conferences. For further information visit