Making monsters: Heterosexuality, crime and race in recent Western media coverage of HIV

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Abstract
In the early HIV epidemic, Western media coverage encouraged the idea that infection was linked to `other` identities located outside the `mainstream`; outside `proper` heterosexuality. Today, however, HIV has become repositioned as a global heterosexual epidemic. Analyses show that since the 1990s Western media have shifted away from blame and hysteria to an increasingly routinised reporting of HIV as a health story and social justice issue. But recent years have seen the emergence of a new media story in many Western countries; the criminal prosecution for HIV-related offences, and with it a reframing of old discourses of `innocence` and `guilt`, but now with heterosexuals in focus. We examine this story in recent domestic media coverage in Australia, a country where heterosexual HIV transmission is rare by global comparison. Echoing similar stories in other Western media, in Australian coverage the idea of criminal intent converges with the symbolic weight of black sexuality and African origins to produce a `monstrous` masculinity, which at the local level taps into contemporary racial tensions and, in so doing, conjures an imagined Anglo-heterosexuality at once vulnerable to and safe from HIV in a globalised epidemic and world.
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Author(s)
Persson, Asha
Newman, Christy
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Publication Year
2008
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Journal Article
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