Lochlann Jain

Grant Type

Post PhD Research Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Stanford U.

Grant number

Gr. 9958

Approve Date

October 29, 2019

Project Title

Jain, Lochlann (Stanford U.) "The Hepatitis B Vaccine: Gay Men and Experimentality in the 1970s"

Hepatitis B, a highly infectious virus, spreads through contact with human blood and other body fluids. Although the majority of cases resolve naturally or can be treated, ten percent of people exposed will develop chronic infection. Half of those will develop liver cancer. This project tracks one element of the development of the first hepatitis B vaccine, a vaccine that was made of the blood plasma of infected people. The vaccine was tested on 1100 gay men in New York in the 1970s. My research offers a historical ethnography of the trial in the fuller context of how the vaccine was developed, why these men were chosen, and the reasons for the vaccines’ withdrawal from the market in 1985 and the subsequent erasure of the role of the men in its development.