The Slippery History of the Dental Dam

As an object, the dental dam awkwardly straddles the history of AIDS activism and queer sexuality, acting as an assertion that sex doesn’t require the presence of a penis to be real sex, while acknowledging simultaneously that such sex still carries risks. The dental dam was deployed as an object for sexual use in an attempt to abate the risk of HIV transmission, but its questionable efficacy as a barrier against the virus has reduced it, for some at least, to a latex relic of historical fears.

What Happened to the History of HIV/AIDS?

This month’s HWO feature reminds us that the history of HIV and AIDS is contentious, and to understand what is happening to the history of HIV now, we need to continue to think about the politics of our contemporary world, who gets to produce representations of the past and whose stories enter our public consciousness.