Date of Award

Spring 5-2013

Author's School

College of Arts & Sciences

Author's Department/Program



This study analyzes the salient representations of HIV/AIDS in cinematic and television movies, and particularly the patterns of characters afflicted with it. I separate the representations by sex, and compare the representations with respect toward multiple social factors, including the medical technology available before and after 1996, when the first effective treatments (HAART) emerged.

Before HAART the men with AIDS in film are almost exclusively MSM’s, and the most common themes are coming out of the closet, struggling against a homophobic society, and facing the fear of contagion. Women pre-HAART are shown as vulnerable and delicate white women who are victimized by AIDS, though a couple films veer away from that to show who is an ‘innocent’ woman and who is a ‘guilty’ woman. Post-HAART, men are represented with a variation of sexual histories, characterized by selfishness and manipulative behavior, and there is an increased introspection into the ways that MSM’s with AIDS view themselves. There is an increase post-HAART in African-American characters (men and women) with HIV, and themes that emerge are marginality, otherness, poor decisions, and stereotypes.


English (en)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Shanti Parikh

Advisor/Committee Chair's Department


Second Advisor

Colin Burnett

Second Advisor's Department

Film & Media Studies

Third Advisor

Rebecca Lester

Third Advisor's Department


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