Sept. 5: Common Reading lecture — HIV, AIDS stigmas persist into digital times 

PULLMAN, Wash. – Matthew Jeffries, director of Washington State University’s Gender Identity/Expression and Sexual Orientation Resource Center, will present “Not all video games and the brat pack: AIDS stigma from the 1980s to the digital age” as a common reading lecture at 5 p.m. Tues., Sept. 5, in CUE 203. 

The lecture is free and open to the public.

Jeffries said that author Ernest Cline paints a rosy image of the 1980s in “Ready Player One,” his fiction novel that is this year’s WSU common reading book for first-year and other students.

HIV and AIDS plagued that era, especially the LGBTQ community, he explained. Stigmas surrounding the HIV and AIDS crisis then continue to prevail today, even in digital spaces, Jeffries said.

“Ready Player One” is about a dystopian future, where humans come most alive when participating and competing in a virtual-reality game universe. The book is immersed in technology, referring back to 1980s video games, music, and films; it also gives rise to exploring ethical dilemmas and changing senses of identity that arise when the world goes increasingly digital.

The book kicks off the common reading’s new two-year theme of exploring “frontiers of technology, health, and society.”

The common reading program began in 2006-07.  Nominations are currently open for the 2018-19 book and can be submitted on the program website at


Media Contact:

  • Karen Weathermon, WSU Common Reading Program co-director, WSU Undergraduate Education, 509-335-5488,
  • Emma Epperly, Communications and Marketing Assistant, WSU Undergraduate Education, 509-335-9458,