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The making of a risk object: AIDS, gay citizenship andthe meaning of blood donation in Sweden in the early1980s
Linköping University, The Tema Institute, Technology and Social Change. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
2011 (English)In: Sociology of Health and Illness, ISSN 0141-9889, E-ISSN 1467-9566, Vol. 33, no 3, 384-398 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In the early 1980s acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) presented a danger to the blood supply, the extent of which was difficult to ascertain before a reliable test became available in 1985. In a situation of uncertainty, the major Swedish gay organisation in early 1983 recommended voluntary exclusion from blood donation by their members, while internationally gay organisationsprotested and Swedish medical authorities hesitated about the appropriate actionto take. At stake were definitions of gay citizenship, risk and the gift of blood. The article uses three sociological approaches to understand the controversies around blood from men-who-have-sex-with-men as a risk to public health. An institutional approach is used to situate the symbolic meaning of blood donation within the specific Swedish blood collection regime, and thus the possible stigma of exclusion from donation practices. The article then details the evolution of different risk objects, based on different actors’ situated knowledge of the danger, and discusses the different framing conditions influencing decision-making by the various actors involved. The analysis uses extensive archival and secondary material to trace decisions taken in the gay movement, medical authorities and blood centres, and to assess their outcome on the spread of AIDS via the blood supply.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Blackwell , 2011. Vol. 33, no 3, 384-398 p.
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-65883DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9566.2010.01299.xISI: 000288017700004OAI: diva2:399860
Available from: 2011-02-23 Created: 2011-02-23 Last updated: 2012-11-23

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Berner, Boel
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