intro: Hey everyone, my name is Maddie, and I’m going to give a quick presentation on some research I did in the fall for my senior seminar for my major!
Positionality: I want to acknowledge my positionality as a middle-class white woman at an elite public university. I’m going to be talking a lot about language, but I want to fully acknowledge that I am by no means an expert on this topic; it’s just something I wanted to explore and bring attention to Class: In Fall, I took a senior seminar for my major with the most incredible professor I’ve had here at UCLA: Lorena Fuentes. She serves as a consultant advising development agencies, like the United Nations, on policy relating to gender. The title of the class I took with her was “Gender & Development”, and we talked a lot about the intent versus impact of development practice, especially when people step in to “help” in societies and cultures they know nothing about. Prof. Fuentes encouraged us to explore topics we were passionate about and bring them to the forefront of discussion in class and in a lot of our writing. She loved to use multimedia approaches to teaching, so we watched a lot of videos, listened to interviews, and the like. One of these such videos was a speech Bill Clinton gave at the Clinton Global Initiative’s Annual Summit in 2009
Play first 30 seconds
ask if anyone can identify what was stigmatizing about what Bill Clinton said Clinton’s association of “guilt” with anyone living with HIV/AIDS is incredibly problematic; no one is guilty of anything on the basis of their HIV status
after seeing this video, I decided to focus my research for the course on how development agencies whose primary focus isn’t HIV/AIDS but have programs discuss HIV/AIDS
Explicitly stigmatizing language Bill Clinton using “guilty” as a descriptor for people living with HIV/AIDS Misuse of language and terminology relating to HIV/AIDS, suggesting a lack of care and/or expertise in handling the topic World Health Organization consistently using “HIV virus” on its website, a clear redundancy, as “HIV” stands for “human immunodeficiency virus” Omission of any information about the deeply stigmatized history of HIV/AIDS Most websites had heavily science-based “histories” of HIV/AIDS or had “Our Organization’s History” tabs, but failed to detail the history of homophobia, transphobia, and racism within which the AIDS epidemic is deeply embedded If we fail to recognize that some living with and affected by HIV/AIDS are impacted by it in different ways than others and erase the history of oppression within which it is steeped, we are doing a disservice to all.
Thank you so so much for listening (and thank you Shivani for letting me present)!
Any comments or questions??
How Some Development Agencies' Discourse Purports to Fight but Actually Perpetuates the Stigmatization of HIV and AIDS
How Some Development Agencies’ Discourse
Purports to Fight but Actually Perpetuates the
Stigmatization of HIV/AIDS
How might development agencies who are not primarily focused on the fight
against HIV/AIDS but have programs that seek to serve those living with
HIV/AIDS be employing discourse that actually perpetuates HIV/AIDS-related
Examples of organizations researched: Clinton Foundation’s “Clinton Global Initiative”,
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, World Health Organization
● Gain a deeper understanding of the discourse employed by organizations many people
worldwide depend on for information and support
● Assess how everyone - myself included - could be better about how we discuss HIV/AIDS
● Highlight instances in which language - or lack thereof - could be perpetuating stigma more
than it is combating it
● Challenge us all to consider the impact of the words we use to inform our actions
3 Identified Areas of Stigmatization
1. Explicitly stigmatizing language
2. Misuse of language and terminology relating to HIV/AIDS, suggesting a lack of care
and/or expertise in handling the topic
3. Omission of any information about the deeply stigmatized history of HIV/AIDS
● Without an emphasis on anti-stigma rhetoric, development organizations are doing
more harm than good by further isolating those living with HIV/AIDS and reducing
the likelihood that they will benefit from the treatment opportunities the organizations
seek to provide.
● Considering the power of language: we have a responsibility to highlight, question,
and challenge stigmatizing language, not only in our everyday experiences, but also
from organizations that might be seeking to serve but sometimes stigmatizing in the
Thank you so much for listening!
Comments or questions?