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Policy document hoping to make Impact on reporting of HIV/AIDS

A new policy bulletin has been launched by the National AIDS Trust to help address poor reporting of HIV, and tackle inaccurate and stigmatising coverage.

The authors claim inaccurate, stigmatising articles, particularly around criminal prosecutions for HIV transmission and immigrants living with HIV, are published on a regular basis, influencing public attitudes.

Yet at a time when the UK has the fastest growing rate of HIV infection in western Europe, they say the HIV epidemic in the UK struggles to get a mention even around World AIDS Day.

The document, Impact, highlights the power of the media to communicate news and information, influence opinions and raise awareness, in a bid to make the media more of a tool in the fight against HIV.

It contains some very positive examples of the media’s ability to inform, break down stereotypes and give a voice to people living with HIV.

But it also reveals how the UK media can misinform readers about HIV and reinforce prejudice, and hopes to stimulate a debate among policy makers and opinion formers on the role the media can play in stopping the spread of HIV and tackling stigma and discrimination.

Impact is available for download.

Articles in it include:

  • An interview with Tim Toulmin, director of the Press Complaints Commission, on tackling stigma in the media
  • Lord Chris Smith’s experiences of disclosing his HIV status to the media
  • An interview with Amanda Elliott, editor of Positive Nation, which champions the rights of people living with HIV and gives them a voice in the media.
  • The work of Press Gang; a group of people living with HIV who actively challenge stigma in the media and who work to encourage more positive and constructive coverage of HIV

    Henry Badenhorst, managing director of Gaydar, who funded Impact, said: “This thought-provoking collection of articles offers a fascinating insight into HIV in the media.

    “Gaydar’s commitment to the pivotal role that the media can play in tackling HIV prompted us to fund this issue of Impact.

    “We hope that it will stimulate debate and encourage greater engagement with HIV issues in the media.”