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S20.1 Understanding how laws and policies affect HIV prevention practices: a theoretical approach
  1. Morten Skovdal
  1. University of Copenhagen, Department of Public Health, Copenhagen, Denmark


Laws and policies play a critical role in creating contexts for the prevention of HIV. Research for example shows that incriminating laws, and policy absences, prevent certain population groups from taking full advantage of existing HIV prevention services, constrain the development of new interventions, contribute to stigma and discrimination, and reinforce social disadvantage. While an enabling law and policy environment in the form of regulations and guidelines is central to the fight against HIV, reducing laws and policies to ‘context’, overshadows the complex mechanisms through which they come to have effect on HIV prevention practices. To support further research into how laws and policies shape HIV prevention practices, I explore the potential of social practice theory as an approach for interrogating how laws and policies mediate links between individual, community, and societal phenomena. I introduce a ‘table of questioning’ for identifying the range of material, symbolic, competence, relational and motivational law and policy elements that may affect HIV prevention practices. I argue that such exploration can facilitate analysis and action of the links and connections between laws, policies, elements, and social practices that establish (dis)engagement with HIV prevention practices as a possible and desirable thing to do. Such analysis can help uncover local hitherto un-identified issues and provide a platform for novel synergistic and combination prevention approaches for action that are not otherwise obvious.

Disclosure No significant relationships.

  • HIV prevention
  • law
  • policy
  • social practices

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