Constructing Gender and Sexuality in HIV/AIDS IEC Materials in Tamil Nadu: a Social Semiotic Approach


  • L. Chinnappan Loyola College
  • I. Arul Aram


Gender, Sexuality, HIV/AIDS, Social Semiotics, IEC materials.


The epidemic HIV/AIDS has been alarmingly threatening the developing countries like India. To address the issues of control and management of this vexatious infection, nations of the world have developed, created and circulated Information, Education, and Communication (IEC) materials. Following in the footsteps of the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), Tamil Nadu has produced many IEC materials. It is in the portrayals of such materials that construction of gender and sexuality takes place in the form of gendered social actors. Many impact studies have been conducted on these materials. But this study concentrates on the less researched area of how the construction of Gender and Sexuality in these IEC materials takes place using Social Semiotic Approach through the Gupta’s Continuum of Social Construction of Gender and Sexuality in HIV/AIDS programmes. Five IEC materials in the form of posters were taken for the analysis. While analysing these materials under Gupta’s continuum consisting of stereotypical, neutral, sensitive, transformative and empowering constructions, the fact as to what type of gendered social actors were made of were also revealed.


Author Biography

L. Chinnappan, Loyola College

Department of Visual Communication, Assistant Professor


Bekele, A. and Ali, A. (2008). “Effectiveness of IEC interventions in reducing HIV/AIDS related stigma among high school adolescents in Hawassa, Southern Ethiopiaâ€, Ethiopian Journal of Health Development, 8;22(3):232-242).

Chong, J. and Kvasny, L. (2007). “A Disease That ‘Has a Woman’s Face’: The Social Construction of Gender and Sexuality in HIV/AIDS Discoursesâ€, Intercultural Communication Studies XVI: 3, 2007. 1-13. Accessed from

Cukier, W. and Bauer, R. (2004). “Applying Habermas’ validity claims as a standard for critical discourse analysis.†In B. Kaplan, D. Truex III, D. Wastell, T. Wood-Harper & J. I. DeGross (Eds.), Information systems research: Relevant theory and informed practice. Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Cullen, J. (1998). “The needle and the damage done: research, action research, and the organizational and social construction of health in the “information society.†Human Relations, 51(12), 1543-1564.

Godbole, S. and Mehendale, S. (2005). “HIV/AIDS epidemic in India: risk factors, risk behaviour and strategies for prevention and controlâ€, Indian Journal of Medical Research, 121, pp.356-368.

Gupta, G. R. (2000). “Gender, sexuality, and HIV/ AIDS: The what, the why, and the how (Plenary Address)â€, Proceedings of the 13th International AIDS Conference, Durban, South Africa.

Hodge, R. and Kress, G. (1988). “Social Semioticsâ€, Cambridge, Polity Press, 1988.

Jackson, R. L., Warren, J. R., Pitts, M. J., & Wilson, K. B. (2007). “It is not my responsibility to teach culture!: White graduate teaching assistants negotiating identity and pedagogyâ€. In L. Cooks (Ed.), Whiteness, pedagogy, and performance. New York: Routledge.

Johnson, J. L., Greaves, L., & Repta, R. (2003). “Better science with sex and gender: A primer for health researchâ€, Vancouver, BC, Canada: Women’s Health Research Network.

Kress, G. (2003). “Literacy in the media ageâ€, London: Routledge.

Kress, G. and van Leeuwen, T. (1996). “Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Designâ€, London: Routledge.

TANSACS. (2013). “Annual Report 2012-2013â€, Chennai.

UNAIDS. (1999). “Gender and HIV/AIDS: Taking Stock of Research and Programs†Geneva.

World Health Organization website. (2015). Cairo, Retrieved on July 10, 2015 from

Winett, L.B., and Wallack, L. (1996). “Advancing public health goals through the mass mediaâ€, Journal of Health Communication, Volume 1, pp.173–196.




How to Cite

Chinnappan, L., & Aram, I. A. (2015). Constructing Gender and Sexuality in HIV/AIDS IEC Materials in Tamil Nadu: a Social Semiotic Approach. Asian Journal of Humanities and Social Studies, 3(4). Retrieved from