First Advisor

Maura Kelly

Date of Publication

Spring 1-1-2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Sociology






Health and medicine, Frame analysis, Sexuality, Papillomavirus diseases -- Vaccination, Cancer vaccines, Sexually transmitted disease vaccines, Gender identity in advertising -- Sociological aspects, Advertising -- Drugs -- Sociological aspects, Direct-to-consumer prescription drug advertising -- Sociological aspects



Physical Description

1 online resource (vi, 141 p.) : col. ill.


In an age of biomedicine, technologies, drugs, and treatments are expanding in new and diverse ways. Especially relevant to biomedicalization and this research is how such information is conveyed to the public through the media. Medical information is omnipresent in the media through direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising and regular coverage of health topics in the news. The accessibility and proliferation of medical information provides an important opportunity to examine the ways in which these topics are framed in the media. This research specifically examines the framing of the HPV vaccine, Gardasil in the mass media. In this study, I explore how Gardasil was framed, how gender and sexuality were utilized within such frames, and what groups influenced these frames. I employ frame analysis to examine the presentation of Gardasil in the mass media. Due to the vaccine's intricate connection to gender and sexuality, I examine how these dimensions are utilized and reproduced in such frames. Gardasil was originally approved only for women, making gender a salient aspect of the vaccine. The current body of research examining Gardasil in the media presents data from the time the vaccine was only available to women. Now that the HPV vaccine is approved for men, this research seeks to contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of how Gardasil was framed in the media now that it is available to men and women. And given that Gardasil prevents a sexually transmitted infection (STI) in men and women, it is uniquely tied to issues of sexuality. To analyze Gardasil in the media, I examine newspaper articles, magazine articles, and media representations from stakeholder groups, including DTC advertising, official statements, and group websites. Analysis of key sources indicates that Merck dominated the framing of the vaccine in DTC advertisements and the news media, illustrating the power of the pharmaceutical industry. Findings indicate that the initial marketing of Gardasil constructed the vaccine as uniquely tied to femininity and later, women's empowerment. However, once the drug was approved for men, messages were reframed to appeal to a wider audience. Overall, the media continued to frame the vaccine specifically for women, further constructing HPV as a "woman's disease." The dominant focus on women concomitantly silenced the sexual health of men and sexual minorities. In conclusion, the marketing, discourse, and structural elements of Gardasil make it less accessible to those most in need, therefore contributing to the ongoing problem of cervical cancer and HPV.


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