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International News

Only Two Percent of News in South Africa Focuses on HIV/AIDS

May 4, 2006

A study released in Johannesburg on Wednesday -- World Press Freedom Day -- found HIV/AIDS in southern Africa is under-reported in regional media, and the voices of those most affected and gender aspects surrounding the pandemic are poorly represented. Over one month in 2005, the report assessed 37,001 news items in 118 media in 11 Southern African Development Community countries, said William Bird, Media Monitoring Project director.

"Lesotho had the highest percentage of HIV/AIDS stories with 19 percent, and Mauritius had the lowest with just 1 percent," said Bird. Just 2 percent of news stories in South Africa, which has the world's highest HIV/AIDS caseload, mentioned or focused on the disease, he said.

Overall, just 3 percent of all stories discussed the pandemic. "People living with HIV constituted only 4 percent of all journalists' sources, while government officials and officials from international organizations formed 42 percent," said Bird.

Forty percent of small media outlets' HIV/AIDS coverage was centered on prevention, mother-to-child transmission and gender equity. Care and support were featured in 16 percent of total coverage. "Within this category, orphans and vulnerable children received the greatest attention, and home-based care received only minimal attention," said Bird.

With regards to treatment, 30 percent of stories focused on antiretroviral treatment and 27 percent discussed the medical aspects of AIDS, while positive living, the role of nutrition and where to get help received very little coverage.

"On the positive side, there have been a number of improvements in media reporting," Bird noted. "These include fewer blatant stereotypes and increased sensitivity to language."

The study found that more women journalists in Southern Africa are reporting on HIV (45 percent) as compared to other beats, and in most instances female reporters were more likely to access female sources.

Back to other news for May 4, 2006

Adapted from:
Mail & Guardian (Johannesburg)
05.03.06; Phumza Sokana

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
More on HIV/AIDS in Africa