Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Communication Studies

First Advisor

Christina R. Foust, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Joshua Hanan

Third Advisor

Bernadette M. Calafell

Fourth Advisor

Douglas D. Hesse


Biopolitics, Gay men, Bisexual men, HIV, AIDS, Rhetorical criticism, Stigma, True Blood


Since 1981, roughly 35 million people have died from the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), the end stages of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), and an estimated 39 million are living with HIV today. While various factors such as poverty, lack of education, and poor access to treatment and healthcare compound the epidemic across the world, the endemic in the industrialized west faces specific communication-based challenges to slowing the spread of HIV. Now classified as a "chronic manageable condition", an HIV diagnosis is no longer the death sentence of the early outbreak in the 1980's. A major factor in the continuing endemic of HIV in the United States is stigma surrounding the HIV virus, modes of transmission (anal sex and injection drug use), and a pervasive belief that HIV and AIDS remains a gay white man's disease despite increasing the increasing burdens HIV holds on communities of color where the virus does not discriminate by sexuality.

While much Communication scholarship has explored the reasons why people do not talk about HIV, talk about it in specific ways, feel stigmatized because of HIV, and do or do not disclose their HIV status--among other topics--very little research has been done to examine the rhetorical nature of HIV stigma as it connects with stigmatization of gay and bisexual men's sexuality. This project argues that in order to understand the reasons why HIV remains a medical problem for gay and bisexual men because of a complex network of reasons, a complex rhetorical understanding of the contextual mosaic of HIV and stigma must be explored.

Using rhetorical methods of governmental analysis, viral/biocriticism, and mythic criticism this project proposes a new perspective on rhetorical criticism as a mosaic approach. The project explores: the Federal discourses by President Obama and prevention campaigns created by the CDC; perspectives of HIV Neutrality as proposed by social media campaign organization The Stigma Project in (conversation) with blogger Renato Barruco's proposed HIV status continuum as a form of animatic hierarchy of HIV risk; and the final two seasons of HBO's popular television show True Blood's use of Hepatitis-V through AIDS-as-allegory.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Brendan Geoffrey Aaron Hughes


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

236 p.


Rhetoric, LGBTQ Studies