The HIV/AIDS pandemic evoked anxieties that were tied to Kuwait’s particular histories of gendered citizenship and dislocations of globalized labor. In Kuwait, to the best of our knowledge, HIV/AIDS has not reached epidemic levels. But in the midst of global discussions of HIV/AIDS in the late 1980s and early 1990s, anxiety surrounding Kuwait’s integration into transnational networks of travel and tourism brought tensions over gender roles, citizenship, sexuality, and infidelity to the forefront of public discourse. Drawing on local Arabic-language newspapers, public health campaign material, and state-sponsored publications on Islamic interpretations of HIV/AIDS, this article examines the significance of AIDS in a region where reactions to the pandemic centered on the process of constructing a potential medical event. Citizens and noncitizen residents of Kuwait articulated these anxieties in the context of waiting—waiting to be infected, waiting for a national outbreak, waiting in quarantine, and, for noncitizens who tested positive for HIV, waiting to be deported. By the mid-1990s, this process of anticipating and taking concrete legal measures to prevent a future epidemic resulted in the medicalization of social and political patterns of gender inequality, nativism, and differential citizenship.
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