Taboo Topics Transformed

Work thumb

Views: 193

  • Title: Taboo Topics Transformed: How HIV/AIDS Profoundly Altered Public Communication
  • Author(s): Ruth Massingill
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: Communication and Media Studies
  • Journal Title: The Journal of Communication and Media Studies
  • Keywords: Popular Culture, Mass Communication, HIV/AIDS
  • Volume: 3
  • Issue: 3
  • Year: 2018
  • ISSN: 2470-9247 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2470-9255 (Online)
  • DOI:
  • Citation: Massingill, Ruth . 2018. "Taboo Topics Transformed: How HIV/AIDS Profoundly Altered Public Communication." The Journal of Communication and Media Studies 3 (3): 1-15. doi:10.18848/2470-9247/CGP/v03i03/1-15.
  • Extent: 15 pages


HIV/AIDS has taken a devastating global death toll, but it has also engendered far-reaching social consequences. HIV/AIDS has significantly reshaped media agendas, drawing public attention to the evolving medical and social devastation of the disease. In less than four decades, HIV/AIDS rose from obscurity to a cultural catalyst that restructured social institutions and irrevocably changed public discourse across the globe. Words and images once considered taboo routinely appear in all forms of mass communication, pervade children’s education, influence personal relationships, and affect public policy. The post-HIV/AIDS world is a vastly different place than it was before the 1980s. The struggle to communicate across cultural divides, to foster tolerance and promote human rights for HIV-positive people continues, but the conversation is taking place in public forums, using specific words and images. This article explores how HIV/AIDS profoundly changed society’s cultural institutions by transforming media and public discussions about the disease.