Virulent Rhetorics: HIV and the Politics of Digital Sexual Health

Following up the primary takeaways from my dissertation data analysis, I am drafting a proposal for a book project, comprising six chapters, tentatively titled Virulent Rhetorics: HIV and the Politics of Digital Sexual Health, that expands on the case studies of my dissertation. With this monograph, I do the double work of informing queer and trans BIPOC on how social media can be a health literacy tool while nudging public health officials toward respectful approaches for honoring community health practices. I plan to finalize a book proposal for New York University Press’ “Queer / Trans / Digital” series by January 2023, with sample chapters to be written over Summer 2023. My current timeline for publication is some time in 2024. Below, you can find a breakdown of my current plans for the book.

For the introduction, I recount both popular practices of sexual health advocacy and outreach during the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis leading to the advent of pre-exposure prophylaxis. The following chapter discusses the mediation of such practices through digital technology use, and I focus on Twitter as a rhetorically versatile sites wherein new understandings of health literacy might be best understood given the site’s communicative capacity for a visual, textual, and audio confluence along the lines of queer of color sensibilities. The subsequent chapter recounts how health literacy might be understood in these ways by reviewing how users of color have used the site, different communication modes and popular media to build emergent networks of care as users post and ask questions about their sexual health. The next chapter details why users often take to social media to create these networks as they contend with the material realities of increasingly neoliberal medical and healthcare policies, which adversely affect marginalized communities and especially, as I argue, queer and trans BIPOC, whose identities become wound up in a capitalist regime of care. The penultimate chapter offers a guide for users of color on how to disrupt epistemic hubris in healthcare and clinical settings, highlighting rhetorical strategies for leveraging their experiences in both online and offline settings to combat medical racism. The final chapter does similar work but for public health officials and healthcare providers, advancing a reformed health literacy framework to build better healthcare and public health experiences for queer and trans people of color.