Lunchtime Seminar Tuesday 26th November

The next lunchtime seminar will be given by our very own Hannah Kershaw.

Please see the poster and abstract below for further information.


From ‘Any Woman’ Thrush to Pitiful AIDS: The Construction of HIV-Positive Identities in Just Seventeen Magazine, 1983-1997

Hannah Seminar

26th November 2013

1 p.m. – 2 p.m.

Simon Building Room 2.57

For more information, contact, or,, or   

From ‘Any Woman’ Thrush to Pitiful AIDS: The Construction of HIV-Positive Identities in Just Seventeen Magazine, 1983-1997

It is commonly suggested that HIV/AIDS had a marked effect on the frankness with which sex was represented to adolescents in Britain. Certainly the threat of AIDS gave sexual health educators a further mandate for talking about sex, but emphasis on this change often gives the impression of previous silences before, and an immediate transformation after, AIDS. An exploration into any teenage media’s representations of AIDS reveals a more complex story.

This paper will explore the development of early AIDS representations produced for the consumption of teenage girls by focusing on Just Seventeen magazine and the development of its earliest representations of AIDS. Sex was talked about in the magazine before AIDS was first portrayed in 1985, the changes in representational practices it encouraged were less a change in the discourse around sex and more the addition of new narratives about the risks involved in sex, sexually-diseased or ‘at risk’ identities, and the purpose of contraception. The paper will then argue that though AIDS coverage in Just Seventeen changed significantly between 1985 and 1997, with new narratives, characters and focuses added to their representational repertoire, ideologically the underlying motives behind the magazine’s portrayals of the disease and ‘at risk’ and HIV-positive identities did not change radically. Whilst sex and death certainly sell, the representation of AIDS in Just Seventeen was motivated by more than profit and Health Education Authority edicts; early coverage in the magazines displays a will to both prevent its predominantly white middleclass heterosexual underage female readership from panic and prejudice. Later, when the focus of AIDS-education was largely dominated by safer-sex practices, the victim-blaming narrative which suggested those who risked sex without a condom were to blame for their HIV-positivity was juxtaposed by extensive sympathetic coverage of reasons why teenagers continued to practice ‘unsafe sex’.


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