Department or Program



The emergence of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes it, left an indelible mark on the social and cultural fabric of the late twentieth century. The pandemic – which was largely worsened by institutional ignorance and inaction – disproportionately harmed already marginalized existing populations, particularly Black Americans. As the disease began to situate itself firmly in the American consciousness, conspiracy theories that disputed its origins became pervasive. Given the legacy of violent racism that has formed the modern institution of American medicine, some began to proclaim and promulgate the theory that HIV was intentionally created in a laboratory as a means of systematic genocide against the Black population. In this project, I hope to interrogate the content and origins of these theories; and trace the historical instances of anti-Black medicalized racism that enabled them. More particularly, this study explores the ways in which American medicine has, over centuries, made violent attempts at interfering with Black reproductive potential, and how HIV became the perfect platform wherein these historical concerns could shift modes into organized conspiracies and political discourses, particularly for Black men. Finally, this paper will provide an ideological framework by which we may understand these conspiracy theories as attempts at ideologically organizing against state medical narratives.

Level of Access

Open Access

First Advisor

Essame, Jeanne

Date of Graduation


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Components of Thesis

1 PDF file

Open Access

Available to all.