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SVG media fails HIV/AIDS test

SVG media fails HIV/AIDS test

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The findings of a study carried out in St. Vincent and the Grenadines between the months of January and April 2005, regarding the coverage of HIV/AIDS, have revealed that many media stories on that issue contain negative terminology.

Last Monday, December 19, Livingston White of the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, Jamaica, Principal Investigator, presented the findings of the analysis. The content analysis was conducted by the Pan American Health Organization in conjunction with the Ministry of Health and Environment.{{more}}

“Regarding the coverage of HIV/AIDS, the study revealed that negative terminology was often associated with the description of the virus and the disease.

“The coverage of HIV/AIDS although mostly localised, was found to be highly event-oriented,” White stated.

White said the main purpose of the study was to analyze content in the media of St.Vincent and the Grenadines, focusing particularly on the treatment and coverage of health-related content as well as content with the potential for a health focus.

The sample collected by local journalists Tamara Job and Shermalon Kirby comprised 863 units of analysis taken from radio, television and newspaper.

White identified areas for improvement in the treatment of health related content including the explanation of medical jargon, writing style, clarity as well as the way in which journalists explore the health implications present within stories which on the surface do not seem to have an obvious potential for a health focus.

He added that the main finding is that health-related content does not account for a large majority of the media content sampled in the three months as only 16 per cent or 139 of all stories actually dealt with health.

Clare Forrester, Pan American Health Organization Media/Communications Advisor, said PAHO is interested in working with the media in St.Vincent and the Grenadines to improve the health coverage.

Forrester said the study conducted here is a pilot study. PAHO proposes to use the study methodology developed in St.Vincent and the Grenadines to conduct similar studies in other countries.

Forrester said PAHO does not expect to see miracles overnight but is anticipating capacity building and will continue its incentives programme for excellence in health journalism coverage.

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