HIV/ AIDS news coverage dropped more than 70 percent in developed countries in the past two decades, according to a new study.
Researchers tracked 115 newspapers in 41 countries from 1990 until May 2010, and found that the change might be attributable in some part to the increase in coverage of sustainability issues such as global warming and going green.
American and French newspapers showed the most dramatic reduction in HIV/AIDS coverage in that time period. Coverage levels of most other socioeconomic topics such as child labor, maternal mortality and even Malaria remained relatively stable in that time frame.
The report was issued by The Trends in Sustainability project, which includes an international team of researchers from the University of Leeds and Queens University in the United Kingdom, The Institute for Future Studies and Technology Assessment in Berlin, and Euromed Management School in Marseille. The group followed seven publications in the U.S. with very high circulations, including The Washington Post, The New York Times and USA Today.
The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) found similar results in a 2009 major survey of Americans on HIV/AIDS and global health. The share of people reporting they had heard, seen, or read “a lot” or “some” about HIV/AIDS in the U.S. in the prior year declined from 70 percent in 2004 to 45 percent in 2009. The portion reporting they saw “a lot” declined by approximately half in the same time period, from 34 percent in 2004 to 14 percent in 2009, according to the survey summary.
“The dropoff in attention to HIV/AIDS could partly be a response to the current focus on the economy, but related findings suggest it’s a longer term trend,” said KFF President and CEO Drew Altman, PhD, in a column written at the time of the survey release. “As this next chart shows, the percentage of the overall public and of African Americans naming HIV/AIDS the most urgent health problem facing the nation has declined steadily and has fallen precipitously since 1995.”
The effect over time of such a drop off in media attention on the global response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic remains to be seen.