Sunday, 15 November 2015

Reporting of HIV - What The Sun newspaper has done wrong

Microscope image of HIV-1 virus

35 million people are believed to be HIV-positive in the world today. The UN published a press release, stating it believed as many as 19 million of these 35 million people don't even know they have it.

That is an eye-watering 54% of total sufferers worldwide.

Last week, red-top newspaper The Sun reported an eye-grabbing story: someone famous has allegedly been diagnosed with HIV.

We're supposed to care, because they reportedly have a load of famous exes. It could be anyone in Hollywood, the story suggests.

Delete the word "famous" from my earlier sentence, though, and you start to see a problem with the story.

The Sun has inadvertently started a "guess-who?" witch-hunt in Hollywood. People suffering in private will almost certainly feel reluctant to speak up about their diagnosis, with stories of this nature.

The Sun's coverage of this story is embarrassingly dreadful. The celebrity's name is omitted, but the damage is being done already.

The story even quotes an ex-Terrence Higgins Trust person, on the subject of stigma. The writer has pretty much slapped themselves in the face, writing this article.

Advances in medical science mean that HIV-positive status is no longer a death sentence. However, sufferers remain stigmatized, and it's a sad fact, but many assume still don't quite get how the disease actually spreads.

The Sun is no stranger to fear-mongering, on the subject of HIV/AIDs. As this link shows, The Sun and other newspapers were guilty of creating an atmosphere of ignorance and fear about this diseases, which was discovered in 1980.

Note: World AIDS Day is on 1st December 2015, and I hope to have a more in-depth story on the subject by then.

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