Date of Award

Summer 8-18-2011

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Marian Meyers

Second Advisor

Leonard Teel

Third Advisor

Carrie Freeman

Abstract

The media’s portrayal of HIV has taken a number of different forms since the disease was first discovered over three decades ago. HIV has been portrayed as an epidemic and a disease affecting homosexuals and immigrants. Its transmission has also been portrayed as a criminal offense. In August 2010, the German singer Nadja Benaissa was arrested for passing on HIV to a former partner and exposing two other men. Media constructions of this story draw upon HIV stereotypes because of her drug-using past, her immigrant status and her criminal actions. This media study points to a new discourse centered on the shared responsibility of safe sex. While Benaissa was mostly blamed for transmission, the media at times suggested that safe sex concerning HIV was not entirely dependent upon HIV-positive individuals.

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Communication Commons

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