Dramatic Decline Seen in AIDS News Coverage

FRIDAY Dec. 3, 2010 -- If the expression "out of sight, out of mind" is true, then wealthier nations may be at risk of forgetting about the global AIDS pandemic, according to an international team of researchers.

Media coverage of HIV/AIDS fell more than 70 percent in developed countries over the last two decades, according to a study that tracked coverage in 115 leading broadsheet newspapers in 41 countries from 1990 until May 2010. In the early 1990s, an average of 1.5 articles about HIV/AIDS was found in every issue of the newspapers. That has fallen to less than 0.5 articles since 2008.

The decline in HIV/AIDS-related articles has been particularly dramatic in American and French newspapers, the researchers noted.

While media coverage of HIV/AIDS has decreased in some nations, coverage has remained at a high level or increased in areas hardest hit by the AIDS pandemic, such as South Africa.

The research was conducted as part of an ongoing project to track worldwide media coverage of sustainability issues such as human rights, poverty and climate change. The Trends in Sustainability project includes researchers from the University of Leeds and Queen's University Belfast in the United Kingdom, the Institute for Future Studies and Technology Assessment in Berlin, Germany, and Euromed Management School in Marseille, France.

"HIV/AIDS has emerged as a key issue that increasingly tends to be treated with neglect by newspapers based in the developed [northern areas of the world]," Frank Figge, of Queen's University Management School in Belfast, said in a University of Leeds news release. "This does not necessarily come as a surprise, as the remarkable progress that has been made in tackling HIV/AIDS has also largely been restricted to the wealthy North. Hence, the problem itself has shifted towards the global South."

The vast majority of HIV/AIDS research occurs in the developed nations, so the apparent lack of interest in those countries may harm efforts to find ways to fight the spreading AIDS pandemic in developing nations, the researchers said.

More information

The World Health Organization has more about HIV/AIDS.

Posted: December 2010


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