n Language Matters : Studies in the Languages of Southern Africa - Gender stereotypes in HIV / AIDS discourse

Volume 36, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0256-5986



This article examines the impact of language on HIV / AIDS, and how stereotypical discourse reveals people's perceptions, attitudes and behaviour towards AIDS at a community level. The speech community in the survey is composed of residents of Bairro Urbanização, one of the poorest suburbs of Maputo City in Mozambique. The researcher examines in particular the stigmatising process correlating gender stereotypes and female discrimination. Informants' perceptions are ordered on an abstract-concrete continuum, demonstrating that language is not neutral in its use but intentionally marked. This provides evidence for the hypothesis that the numerous HIV / AIDS misconceptions encountered in gender stereotypes considerably influence people's stigmatising attitudes and discriminatory behaviour towards infected women in particular and generate a stigmatising process that underlies people's stereotypical reasoning about women in general.

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