Date of Award




Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of Sociology

Content Description

1 online resource (ii, 41 pages)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Ronald N Jacobs

Committee Members

Richard Lachmann, James Zetka


HIV/AIDS, Iran, Media, Medicalization, Sexualization, AIDS (Disease), HIV infections, AIDS (Disease) and mass media, Sexually transmitted diseases

Subject Categories

Accounting | Public Health | Sociology


Broadly construed, this thesis will examine the transformations in the socio-cultural construction of HIV/AIDS in Iran from the joint perspectives of media and medical sociology. Until recently, official public narratives in Iran primarily regarded AIDS to be a drug-related disease. However, beginning from the early 2010s, a new narrative frame (often called as “the third wave”) introduces a significant “alarming” collective shift in the transmissions modes of the disease toward sexual pathways. Having observed the rather rapid transformation of the public AIDS framing, this research began with an empirical question: considering the fact that the shift implied the prevalence of non-marital sexual conduct, and thus challenged one of the most persistent taboos of the Islamic Republic State, how is it that after more than two decades of negligence, eventually in early 2010s the conservative forces admitted the sexualization of HIV in Iran? To investigate this question, we will deeply analyze the narratives of HIV/AIDS as represented in the formal mediated public spheres in Iran between 2009 and 2010. The time frame is chosen strategically, so that we can study the creation, development, and eventually the relative dominance of the sexualization (or as is often called “the third wave”) narrative. The arenas of the official public discourse that will be analyzed in this research mainly consist of newspaper content, and the organization and content of the official events that surround the world AIDS day. In the empirical analysis, we are for the most part interested in studying the narratives and performances of medical and public health experts as powerful argument-makers in the Iranian public sphere on and about the various aspects of HIV/AIDS as a matter of common concern. To contextualize the analysis, we will conduct secondary analysis that span over the thirty-year life of the social construction of AIDS in Iran.