Crucial issues in HIV/AIDS overlooked by cable evening news

Despite significant progress and some set-backs in the treatment and prevention of the HIV/AIDS, reporting on these stories has been sparse at best by cable evening news. A report issued by Media Matters revealed that in the calendar year 2013, weekday evening cable news shows significantly underreported major stories about HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and research. With CNN reporting on HIV/AIDS 11 times and MSNBC and FOX only 4 times. The report also shows that the trend is the same for the first quarter of 2014.

Media Matters reports:

According to a Media Matters analysis, between January 1 and December 31, 2013, weekday evening cable news shows significantly underreported major stories about HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and research. CNN discussed HIV/AIDS 11 times in 2013, with MSNBC and Fox News highlighting the issue four times.

Less Than Half Of HIV/AIDS Stories Featured Expert Commentary. Of the 19 discussions of HIV/AIDS on cable evening news during 2013, less than half featured commentary from an expert on HIV/AIDS.

Cable News Coverage Ignored Major HIV/AIDS Developments. Aside from six mentions of the baby whose HIV was in remission due to early antiretroviral drug treatment, evening cable news shows largely ignored significant developments in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Other mentions of HIV/AIDS included interviews with Magic Johnson, acknowledgments of World AIDS Day, and discussions of President George W. Bush's international AIDS work.

We have seen major developments in the battle against HIV/AIDS. Some of the developments include the CDC no longer calling condomless sex unprotected sex. The great impact The Affordable Care Act has  had on those living with HIV/AIDS. Most recently there is the ongoing debate about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). PrEP was approved by the FDA in 2012 to be used as an extra form of protection for those who are considered to be at a high risk for HIV infection. The debate about PrEP, which is prescribed under the name Truvada, is a significant one. Currently less than 2,000 HIV negative people, considered high risk, have prescriptions for Truvada. It is a responsibility of cable news to report and share information. If a major cable news network had been reporting and informing their audience about issues like PrEP, many of the answers to the questions creating the debate could be answered.  

The media needs to report sufficiently and fairly on HIV/AIDS in order to open a dialogue and raise awareness about HIV/AIDS. If we had reporting on the PrEP debate and it educates a young person enough where they consult with a physician to see if Truvada is something they should consider, we could have one less HIV positive diagnosis.


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