This essay addresses how and why people in China create an identity out of their medical status of having HIV/AIDS. The essay argues that contrary to the idea that “coming out” as HIV-positive might be liberating, the experience of being “pushed out” by many people who are HIV-positive is the result of a form of pastoral care, or governmentality, on the part of medical and health experts as well as the media. Language use is central to this experience. In response to the positive use of coming out language by experts, those living with HIV/AIDS have challenged this positivity through a negative language of critique, or a “reverse discourse.” The essay concludes that those who are HIV-positive manage, to some extent, to turn language back on the power that constructs their identity for them.

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