Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a disease that has captured the attention of the media in various ways and to varying degrees. One of the ongoing debates and areas of research in HIV that provide many opportunities for discovery is the disproportionate number of African Americans infected with HIV compared to the amount of attention they receive in the media. This manuscript addresses the question that has preoccupied the minds of many people: Why have African Americans infected with HIV received so little media attention? Analysis of this question suggests that there are many reasons for this lack of media attention. One reason in particular is the media tends to be much less attentive to diseases, such as HIV, that disproportionately burden blacks relative to whites. We also find that the media is reluctant to write about HIV in African Americans because it portrays them negatively. The media suggests that people are bombarded with negative news about African Americans and writing about them with regard to HIV only reinforces the negative. Finally, analysis reveals that in recent years African Americans with HIV have received more media attention due to the increase in rates of HIV in African Americans. This increase in media attention helps educate African Americans about the disease, reduces the stigma associated with it, and inspires African Americans to get tested and linked to care. In this way, African Americans with HIV can help the community stay virus-free.
Published in Environmental Justice, ed. Sylvia Hood Washington, Volume 4, Issue 2, 2011, pages 135-138.
This is a copy of an article published in Environmental Justice © 2011 Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.; Environmental Justice is available online at: http://online.liebertpub.com.
Beverley, C.S., Williams, E.M., & Glover, S.H. (2011) Media Attention on African Americans with Human Immunodeficiency Virus. Environmental Justice 4(2), 135-138.