This report explores mainstream Canadian newspaper coverage of HIV non-disclosure criminal cases in Canada. It pays particular attention to how defendants’ race and immigration status figure into the newspaper representations of such cases. We empirically enquire into claims that African, Caribbean and Black (ACB) people living with HIV are negatively portrayed and overrepresented in Canadian newspaper stories about HIV non-disclosure cases. Our analysis is based on what, to our knowledge, is the largest data set of news coverage of the issue: a corpus of 1680 English-language Canadian newspaper articles about HIV non-disclosure criminal cases in Canada written between 1 January 1989 and 31 December 2015. Our quantitative and qualitative findings show that Canadian mainstream newspapers are a source of profoundly stigmatizing representations of ACB men living with HIV. For example, Black immigrant men living with HIV are dramatically overemphasized in Canadian mainstream newspaper stories about such cases. While these men account for only 15% of defendants charged they are the focus of 61% of newspaper coverage. Mainstream newspapers rely on forms of language that transfer a long history of exaggerated connections between criminality, race, sex, and otherness to the site of HIV. The result is that ACB men living with HIV are repeatedly represented as dangerous, hypersexual, foreigners who pose a threat to the health and safety of individuals (White women) and, more broadly, the imagined Canadian nation.
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