25 years of Reporting HIV: What lessons can we learn?
October 3, 2007
CREATEC presentation on October 3rd, 2007.
This talk analyses the findings of three major surveys that tracked press coverage of the disease in the United States, Southern Africa and the Pacific region from the 1980s. The main reason for their selection is that they are the most extensive to date and they cover a longer period of press coverage than any previous report. A more recent survey conducted by the international Federation of journalists (IFJ) is also examined.
It is evident from the data collected from these surveys that a disproportionate emphasis was placed upon reporting infection rates, international funding and regional workshops, with little in-depth analysis of the disease or educational content. And while the language and tone of HIV stories showed more sensitivity to people living with the AIDS, there was a strong call by the authors of these reports to widen coverage and report AIDS as a story with medical, political, social, economic, cultural, religious and relationship aspects.
The authors, for the most part, also recommended that both editors and journalists should try to report the story in a way that lessens fear and stigma, two key factors that act as major barriers to promoting openness and debate.