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media and HIV (STIGMATIZATION) (CAUSE OF HIV FEARS)
Nov 30, 2006

I was wondering about your thoughts regarding the media's portrayal of HIV/aids? It seems that most of us are deathly affraid of contracting HIV and, unfortunatley, I think it is due to a lack of PROPER education. It seems most of out fears are irrational. I have always believed that the media is more concerned with making us fear somthing rather than making us feel good about something etc. I wonder if you feel that the main stream media has done a good job educating the public about HIV risks etc?

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

I believe there are multiple reasons for irrational HIV fears.

Consider the following poem written by Johnson Mwakanze, a Kenyan living with HIV . . .

"Underneath the Veil"

This one thing has destroyed families,

This one thing has destroyed marriages,

This one thing has killed men.

It is not HIV

It is not AIDS

. . . It is stigmatization.

I say STIGMATIZATION.

Despite decades of activism, statements, declarations, World AIDS Conferences, posters, recordings, street theater, public service announcements, school clubs and lawsuits, stigmatization remains a central and devastating problem in the battle against HIV/AIDS.

Education is another major problem. Lack of frank, scientifically sound education is one of the key factors that has hampered HIV-prevention efforts in the United States. Attempts by the Bush Administration and rightwing religious conservatives to limit science-based prevention efforts, such as the provision of condoms and a clean needles exchange program, and to impose limitations on sex education ("abstinence-only" programs) are directly responsible for the fact that the number of new HIV infections per year in the United States has not decreased over the past 15 years! Lack of knowledge also leads to increased fear and stigmatization.

Could the mainstream media do a better job of promoting AIDS awareness and education? Absolutely. But that's only one piece of the puzzle, a puzzle that should have been solved many years ago!

Thanks for your comments.

Dr. Bob



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