Honors Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Croft Institute for International Studies

First Advisor

Kate Centellas

Relational Format



How can studying such diverse contexts as Vietnam, Argentina, and Mississippi—three cases from opposite corners of the world — provide remediation for the global HIV epidemic? By targeting specific populations of high-risk groups (e.g. injection drug users, females sex workers, and men who have sex with men), analysis of my ethnographic fieldwork in Vietnam, Argentina, and Mississippi, revealed a common denominator of stigma, though manifesting in varying ways, which laid the foundation for this thesis. Building from Erving Goffman's (1993) foundational text on stigma in collaboration with Link and Phelan's (2001) expansion thereof, I define stigma as the differentiation and exclusion from the normal based on a perceived inferior label, resulting in devaluation and unequal access to power. Furthermore, I examine, through qualitative evidence, how HIV-related stigma is implemented in the framework of the moral model of disease through micro interactions of moralized actions and identities (e.g. drug use, sex work, varying sexual identities). Focusing on the social determinants of health — social, cultural, political, and economic — through the perspectives of people living with HIV (PLHIV), family members, health care practitioners, non-governmental organization (NGO) representatives, community contacts, and Ministry of Health (MOH) employees, I studied and compared the relationship between of HIV-related stigma and morality in each country and state context. By looking at Vietnam, Argentina, and Mississippi cumulatively, this thesis seeks to illustrate the ways in which the moralization of HIV-related stigma further marginalizes and contributes to lower health outcomes of HIV-positive people.


A thesis presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for completion of the Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies from the Croft Institute for International Studies and the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College.

Included in

Anthropology Commons



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