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Where are the men? Absence of heterosexual men in the international scientific discourse on AIDS

Where are the men? Absence of heterosexual men in the international scientific discourse on AIDS

Different scientific discourses have accompanied control of the AIDS epidemic over the past decades. The concept of gender relations has figured increasingly in the prevention discourse. We followed its development through analysis of a key discursive space: published proceedings of the World AIDS Conference (WAC). Our aim was to investigate representations of male heterosexuality and their role in the management of the epidemic.

The appearance of gender terms in keywords and titles served as a “barometer” of their presence in the scientific discourse and was monitored in WAC proceedings 1988-2004. The term “women” appeared as a keyword as from 1998 and became increasingly differentiated with successive conferences. “Men”, was absent from keywords. In abstract titles, “women”
was the most frequent of the 4 identified categories, these being: “homosexual men”; “men” (heterosexual or n.e.c.); “homosexual (lesbian) women”; “women” (heterosexual or n.e.c.). “Women” occurred approximately four times more than “men” and 2-3 times more than “homosexual men” in abstract titles. “Homosexual women” appeared rarely. The hypothesised
absence of heterosexual men in the AIDS discourse confirms previous work on gender representations in different domains of sexual and reproductive health : men are the absent partners, their role reduced to a biological function, with hegemonic masculinity as the dominant image, excluding vulnerability.

Conference: Demo
Areas of Interest / Categories: HIV, Sexual and Reproductive Health