Constructing HIV/AIDS on the Internet: A Comparative Rhetorical Analysis of Online Narratives in the United States and in China

Jingwen Zhang, Huiling Ding


Social constructions of HIV/AIDS have previously been explored in individual countries and cultures; however, little comparative study has been conducted. This article examines how online communications and the rhetoric(s) identified in discussion forum posts reveal and construct the meaning of HIV/AIDS. We explore how Chinese and American discussion forums rhetorically construct HIV/AIDS illness experiences. A rhetorical topoi analysis of 100 most-responded-to posts demonstrates how specific reasoning traditions and sociocultural beliefs shape the interpretation of and responses to HIV/AIDS. The findings suggest that whereas Chinese participants view contracting AIDS as fate and social death, American participants do not share this intense concern with moral criticism.


HIV/AIDS; interpretive description; illness and disease, social construction; research, cross-cultural; research, online

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