Incarnating Stigma: Visual Images of the Body with HIV/AIDS


  • Nelson Varas-Díaz Universidad de Puerto Rico
  • José Toro-Alfonso University of Puerto Rico



body, HIV/AIDS, stigma, visual images, media


HIV/AIDS has been documented as a stigmatizing condition due to its association with sickness, contagion, and bodily death. Still, further attention needs to be given to the role that the body plays in this process of stigmatization. Taking into consideration the visual dimension of the body, we examine the manner in which visual images of the body living with HIV/AIDS contribute to stigmatize those embodied in them. Through an analysis of bodily images presented in HIV/AIDS related articles published by Puerto Rico's major newspaper, we explain the manner in which they portray a stigmatized body. We examine how these images contrast with the current state of the epidemic in Puerto Rico and consequences that the messages presented by these bodily images may have on the stigmatization of people living with HIV/AIDS. The present study is a preliminary effort stemming from a larger research project that aims to qualitatively examine the stigmatization of HIV/AIDS through multiple media outlets including television, radio, printed press, and the Internet. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs030375


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Author Biographies

Nelson Varas-Díaz, Universidad de Puerto Rico

Nelson VARAS-DÍAZ, Ph.D., is a social-community psychologists and a researcher at the University of Puerto Rico's University Center for Psychological Services and Research. His research addresses the stigmatization of HIV/AIDS through social policy, the media, and the medical establishment.

José Toro-Alfonso, University of Puerto Rico

José TORO-ALFONSO, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologists and an Associate Professor at the University of Puerto Rico. His research addresses the social construction of masculinity among men who have sex with men, and HIV prevention.




How to Cite

Varas-Díaz, N., & Toro-Alfonso, J. (2003). Incarnating Stigma: Visual Images of the Body with HIV/AIDS. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 4(3).



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