HIV/AIDS Stigma and Visibility

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The thesis of the article is "the display of an HIV/AIDS tattoo is a qualitatively different act from the staging of a theatrical performance about HIV and AIDS, not only because the "stages" upon which the tattoo wearer performs her or his enunciation include the everyday settings of work, play, and home, but also because for the tattoo wearer the body announces the invisible even when the wearer remains vocally silent" (115).

Bouwer identifies the link between stigma and tattoos and investigates visibility politics and the way they have informed AIDS activism. Further, the author highlights the claims that defend tattoos as symbols of expressions and the assumptions navigating such allegations. Hence, Bouwer continues to question the efficiency of tattoos in communication and performance.

The key terms in the article are HIV, tattoo, and visibility (114). HIV is a virus that causes AIDS which, in turn, damages the immune system and causes interference with the body's ability fight disease-causing organisms. A tattoo is a visible mark on the body engraved with ink, dyes, pigments, or through producing scars. Visibility is the ability to be seen.

Does the Lack of Research Data Question the Credibility of the Article? In the article, the author identifies one of the limitations of the report as the fact that he used edited statements of very few individuals that were available.

He has mentioned that he only interviewed one person who had a tattoo which is not enough to make conclusions about an entire population. Bouwer further notes that he has not conducted a study on how people perceive tattoos which, therefore, gives partial conclusions of the study. Also, the lack of the evidence on how individuals with tattoos conduct themselves in public spaces questions the credibility of the research (129).


Brouwer, D. (1998). The precarious visibility politics of self‐stigmatization: The case of HIV/AIDS tattoos. Text and Performance Quarterly, 18(2), 114-136.

November 24, 2023




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