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New Study: HIV Under-Reported by Cable TV News Shows

New Study: HIV Under-Reported by Cable TV News Shows


Cable news shows aren't talking about the HIV epidemic at any length or depth and that's a problem.


Media Matters for America is out with a new study analyzing the three cable news networks (Fox, CNN and MSNBC) evening programming and discussions about HIV. And the outcome of the study is disappointing. 

In all of 2013, CNN led the three cable news giants in segments on HIV with a whopping 11 pieces. That's not even a report a month. Fox and MSNBC each had four segments on HIV in all of 2013. Time for that quarterly HIV story folks!

And thus far in the first quarter of 2014, the networks are not doing much better. CNN and MSNBC have each had one segment on HIV, while Fox has had none. 

So why is this a big deal? 

The Kaiser Family Foundation 2011 AIDS at 30 public polling report found that six in ten Americans get their information about HIV from the media. And the dismal record of mainstream media reporting on the epidemic translates into some staggering and troubling issues for HIV.

For instance, in Kaiser's 2012 survey found 21 percent of Americans think you get HIV by sharing a drinking glass while 12 percent think you can the virus from touching a toilet seat. And an astounding seven percent of respondents believed you could contract the virus by swimming in a swimming pool with some one who has HIV. But the poll reveals even more troubling information as it relates to antiretroviral treatment as prevention. Forty-four percent of respondents said that treatment certainly improves the lives of people living with HIV, but it has no impact on the infectiousness of the virus, or the ability of a person living with HIV to transmit it. 

Image courtesy of Media Matters for America

And a miserable 17 percent of respondents said they think anti-HIV medications can be used to reduce the risk of infection by HIV-negative persons. Is there any wonder that so few people have initiated PrEP when less than one in five Americans believe it works?

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Todd Heywood