Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Committee Member

Barbara Brents

Number of Pages



This case study explores HIV testing policy and prostitution in Nevada. Three general themes emerge from analysis of Nevada's HIV/AIDS policy regarding prostitution. First, HIV testing policies reflect and reproduce hegemonic sexuality-specifically gender inequality, heterosexist orientation, and negative stereotypes of prostitutes. Second, Nevada's legalized prostitution industry makes visible the effects of economic dynamics, specifically tourism, on policies related to sexuality. Finally, the policymaking process depicts conflict between two approaches to regulation: the punitive control measures favored by law enforcement, and prevention and public health strategies favored by health bureaucracies. Testing prostitutes for HIV became the dominant policy response to an emerging moral panic about AIDS in the mid-1980s. Nevada's conflicting policy approaches both tend to protect Nevada's economic interests and stigmatize prostitutes. The research examines public documents, newspaper accounts, and interviews with policymakers to describe the emergence of Nevada's regulatory policies, particularly in the context of interplay between sexuality, gender, economics, and political action. Further study of the relationship between moral panics and morality politics is necessary to understand how fear is transformed into policy through legislative processes.


Hiv; Hiv Testing; Murderers; Nevada; Policies; Polluters; Prostitutes; Social Policy; Testing; Vectors

Controlled Subject

Sociology; Women's studies; Public health

File Format


File Size

7669.76 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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