Stigma and otherness in the Israeli Media's mirror representations of illness

Michal Soffer, Mimi Ajzenstadt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


In this study we examined the social construction of stigma toward HIV/AIDS in the Israeli press by comparing newspaper articles on HIV/AIDS, a highly stigmatized illness, and heart disease, a nonstigmatized illness in Israel. We carried out thematic content analysis of 242 newspaper articles published over a 12-month period. Two counter themes emerged from the analysis. HIV/AIDS was portrayed as a "foreign illness" mainly afflicting immigrants from the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia. In addition, HIV/AIDS was constructed as a disease of "the deviant other," particularly gay men, who pose risk to themselves and those around them. By contrast, heart disease was defined as a "local illness" of "ordinary" individuals, and an unpredictable phenomenon. The mirror images of HIV/AIDS and heart disease, which were involved in the stigmatizing process of HIV/AIDS, reflect the wider moral-sociocultural order of Israeli society.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1033-1049
Number of pages17
JournalQualitative Health Research
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • heart health
  • illness and disease
  • media
  • social construction
  • stigma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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