Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sociological Perspective on the MSM Blood Ban

In the past four years of my life I have run over a dozen blood drives as a representative of the American Red Cross. While running these drives I found myself often in a position of having to explain to individuals why they would not be allowed to donate blood. Socially the issue at large was the federal ban on blood donations made by men who have had sexual relations with other men (MSM). A social issue is any issue pertaining to the sociological study of behavior within a larger society. Sociology studies the larger social structure and how individuals’ social interactions change over time. A personal trouble is the effect of a larger social issue on an individual or individuals. My personal trouble was helping two close friends affected by the MSM blood ban and countless other males confused by its implication understand its purpose.

Applying the sociological imagination we can better understand the effect they MSM blood ban had on my personal trouble. The sociological imagination is the ability to imagine the possible relationship between a given individual experience, or personal trouble, and the wider social forces or social issues in a given society (Curry, 2008). Homosexuals recognize the MSM blood ban as a personal trouble because from their prospective it appears as an unwarranted form of discrimination. It is clear today that the spread of HIV is not caused by ones sexual preferences but by the failure to in act appropriate preventive measure such as the use of condoms. It is also possible that the MSM blood ban could become a personal trouble for males who do no participate in MSM. Heterosexual males may misunderstand the ban and fail to understand the real cause of HIV, therefore failing to in act appropriate preventive measures themselves.

A study conducted by Rodney G. Triplet at Northern State University titled Discriminatory Biases in the Perception of Illness found that there is already a perceived association between homosexual behavior and HIV. The MSM blood ban supports this incorrect association between HIV and MSM activities (Triplet, 1992). According to the CDC, 67 percent of HIV diagnoses among males do accrue due to MSM (CDC, 2007). Although 26 percent of HIV cases happen among women, 80 percent of these involve transmission from high-risk heterosexual contact. Left unaccounted from all this is MSMW cases, or men who have sexual relations with men and women. The MSMW group, according to Mutchler, constitutes a vacuum HIV research. One of the key reasons this group is so important is that Homosexuality is an identity and therefore can not be a cause of HIV. Only specific behaviors can account for the transmission of HIV (Mutchler, 2005).

The sociological imagination allows us to see how my friends may have been emotionally harmed by the policy. It also allows us to imagine how an individuals behavior, let’s say choosing to use a condom, may change based of the stereotype put forward by the policy. A male who believes that only homosexuals can spread HIV may not feel the need to use a condom if he doesn’t identify himself as a homosexual.

No comments:

DreamHost Coupons