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Media coverage of AIDS epidemic is decreasing (12238)

12238Health News2004-05-01

Media coverage of AIDS epidemic is decreasing

U.S. media coverage of the AIDS epidemic is decreasing, with gay men--the first group to be hit by the disease in the United States--accounting for just 4% of the AIDS stories overall, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation study of 21 years of AIDS news coverage. Total coverage of the epidemic peaked in 1987 and slowly declined through 2001, with notable exceptions at milestone events in the epidemic, including Magic Johnson's 1991 announcement that he is HIV-positive and the unveiling of protease inhibitors in 1996. The most frequently pictured people in AIDS stories during the past 21 years weren't even HIV-positive--they were the health care providers and AIDS researchers, who accounted for about 20% of all visual coverage of the epidemic. The study, titled "AIDS at 21: Media Coverage of the HIV Epidemic, 1981-2002," also shows that over time, story topics shifted from HIV transmission and safer-sex issues to those focusing on government funding and private fund-raising efforts; topics also shifted away from the U.S. epidemic to the global AIDS crisis. The full study, which first appeared in the March-April 2004 edition of the Columbia Journalism Review, is now available online at www.kff.org.

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