Vol. 8, No. 1 (2012): 125–144.
In this article, I address the lack of research in current scholarship on the impacts China’s changing media is having on those who consume messages about HIV and AIDS, and on the political, social, celebrity and corporate activism which have resulted from the improved circulation of knowledge about the virus in society. To do so, I position current ways of understanding the virus, its marketability and the myriad activism that knowledge of the virus encourages, in light of the impact that initial knowledge of HIV and AIDS sufferers in China had when introduced to the general, urban public. I first discuss the fragmented history of the virus in telling AIDS in China. I then turn to the changes in Chinese society, politics, economy and legal fields which followed the media’s sudden publication of stories about HIV/AIDS within the country. I argue that the media’s introduction of Chinese “AIDS sufferers” (aizibing huanzhe) through local stories of extreme suffering were critical to the broad-based changes and sustained successful bio-activism that followed their publication.
Johanna Hood is a postdoctoral fellow at the Australian Centre on China in the World at the Australian National University. She is the author of HIV/AIDS, Health, and the Media in China: Imagined Immunity through Racialized Disease (Routledge 2011). Johanna has published translations of Chinese literature, and articles on HIV communication and celebrity and activist involvement in HIV in China in edited volumes Celebrity China (Hong Kong University Press 2009) and Unequal China (Routledge 2012), and in journals such as Modern China (forthcoming) and Asian Studies Review (2004). The research for this article was supported by the Social Science and Humanities Council of Canada, the Canada-China Scholar Exchange Program, and an Australian Government Endeavor and International Postgraduate Research Scholarship.