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Title:Not so 'gay' after all: constructing (homo)sexuality in AIDS research in the South African Medical Journal, 1980-1990
Author:Tsampiras, CarlaISNI
Periodical:South African Historical Journal
Geographic term:South Africa
medical research
External link:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/02582470802417532
Abstract:Throughout the 1980s, the medical narrative of AIDS was linked to sexuality - specifically homosexuality. The first article in the South African Medical Journal (SAMJ) to report on a rise in immune deficiency related deaths was titled 'Immuniteitstekort en homoseksualiteit' (Immune deficiency and homosexuality). The sexuality represented in the 'objective' scientific/medical journal that the SAMJ claimed to be, referred to a constructed white, male homosexuality that was commonly contrasted to a constructed white, male heterosexuality (an absent referent) imbued and influenced by the conservative racial, moral, and gendered discourses of apartheid South Africa. In the 'public' forum of the SAMJ, some medical practitioners created a stereotype of 'male homosexuality', represented it as 'abnormal' and 'promiscuous', and constructed 'the homosexual' as an (unscientific) research category. The resultant discourse around AIDS categorized it primarily as a syndrome of the 'deviant few', rather than a shared public health problem. Examining the discourse around homosexuality allows a glimpse into the inherently subjective nature of scientific research. It also reveals the concerns, interests and beliefs of a specific group of medical professionals creating 'scientific facts', and divulges as much about constructions of 'white', male 'heterosexuality' as it does about 'white' male 'homosexuality'. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]