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Glamorizing sick bodies: how commercial advertising has changed the representation of HIV/AIDS

By Marco Scalvini


As a consequence of pharmaceutical advancements, HIV is no longer described in terms of the absence of health or presence of illness, and advertisements promoting anti-AIDS medications commercialize idealized and desirable bodies. The present study discusses representations of HIV/AIDS in commercial advertising and their change over time. The article traces the shift in AIDS/HIV representations in commercial advertising from the early 1990s, when images of decay and disease represented AIDS, to nowadays, when the wider availability of antiretroviral medications and their ability to prolong life produced new representations of HIV-afflicted bodies. Claiming that HIV individuals can lead a normal life where everything is possible, advertising has re-established the definition of a sick body. On the other hand, this marketing approach has important social implications because such representations minimize the seriousness of HIV infection and fail to take into account the real dangers of contracting HIV and to accurately represent the life with HIV and AIDS

Topics: PN0080 Criticism, HM Sociology
Publisher: Routledge
Year: 2010
DOI identifier: 10.1080/10350331003722570
OAI identifier:
Provided by: LSE Research Online
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