AIDS Assassins: Australian Media's Portrayal of HIV-Positive Refugees Who Deliberately Infect Others

Fiona McKay, Samantha Thomas, Kate Holland, Warwick Blood, Susan Kneebone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Citations (Scopus)


The media representations of refugees who are HIV-positive often revolve around criminal transmission cases. This study examines the approach the Australian mass media have taken toward the case of two men from refugee backgrounds and how this stigmatizing language is unhelpful in discussions of HIV. An extensive search of the Factiva database was undertaken for all newspaper articles in the major dailies that mentioned “HIV,” “AIDS,” and “refugee” between 2002 and 2008. Analysis was guided by several approaches to media analysis in an attempt to understand the representations of HIV-positive refugees. When analyzing the media articles of criminal cases relating to HIV we found that refugees who are HIV-positive were portrayed in a negative fashion, with the concept of “otherness” prominent throughout most newspaper media reports. Considering this is the main source of information for most people concerning HIV, this representation carries the potential to lead to further stigma and discrimination to both people living with HIV and refugees.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-37
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Immigrant Refugee Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011


Cite this