HIV/AIDS Social Stigma and Visual Art

Date of Award

Fall 12-16-2016

Author Requested Restriction

Delay release for 1 year - then make Open Access

Work Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Interdisciplinary Studies (MA)


Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

Natalie Jolly

Second Advisor

Ed Chamberlain


The purpose of this research is to examine the development and progression of HIV/AIDS stigma within a social structure of power and powerlessness from the early 1980s to the 2010s, through a case study of selected visual images. I focus on the social aspect of how HIV/AIDS is given social stigmas that cause as much suffering as the disease’s physical health effects. To do this, I apply Erving Goffman’s theory on stigma and analyzing visual images from the early 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s to consider how HIV/AIDS has been constructed and reinforced through time. In considering the historical context I show that each of these images responds to stigma as it existed in the early 1980s but also in the ways that it exists today.