The media is incredibly powerful in influencing people's attitudes and understanding of HIV.
Stories in the media can have a positive effect in increasing people's awareness of HIV and what it means to live with HIV. However media reports about HIV are often stigmatising or inaccurate. Many stories contribute to a culture of blame about HIV transmission, focusing on so-called irresponsible sexual activity, use judgmental language and stereotype people living with HIV.
Improving the media's coverage of HIV issues is vital to tackle discrimination experienced by people living with HIV, improve people's knowledge and help prevent the spread of the virus.
NAT works in a number of ways to improve the media's reporting of HIV.
Working with journalists
NAT has produce a number of resources to help journalists ensure that the articles they write contain accurate information about HIV, are not misleading and do not encourage negative perceptions about HIV.
NAT worked with the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), Society of Editors and Press Complaints Committee (PCC) to produce new Guidelines on Reporting HIV which provide practical information on how to report on HIV in an accurate and non-stigmatising way. In addition to including current facts and stats on HIV, this updated version of Guidelines on Reporting HIV (June 2010) from the original produced in April 2007 also contains more detailed information for journalists on HIV testing, and the risks of transmission from spitting, biting and discarded needles - the topics most commonly mis-reported.
We also work directly with the media and with journalism colleges to improve journalists' knowledge and understanding.
NAT has produced a DVD for journalism students, as part of our work to challenge stigma and improve reporting of HIV in the UK media. We understand that the future of reporting HIV is as important as the present media coverage, and this DVD provides information for students on HIV including facts and myths, real stories, ethics of HIV reporting and advice on how to report on HIV without prejudice.
Challenging poor reporting
NAT works behind the scenes to change how journalists report HIV.
We monitor the press daily and if we see reports that are inaccurate or stigmatising towards people living with HIV then we intervene to achieve lasting improvements. By writing to editors, challenging poor reporting, providing information for journalists and working with the Independent Press Standards Organisation we have successfully achieved lasting changes in the approaches a number of national and local newspapers take to reporting HIV.
How you can help
If you are living with HIV then you can help us challenge inaccurate and stigmatising media coverage and provide a human face to HIV in the UK by joining Press Gang.
Press Gang is a group of people living with HIV working together with support from NAT to improve how the media portrays HIV and people living with HIV.
As a member of Press Gang you will be alerted to stigmatising coverage and given advice on contacting journalists, making a complaint, getting a letter to the editor published and sharing your story.
Please email email@example.com for more information about joining Press Gang.
Download hereGuidelines on Reporting HIV
Editors & journalists
Find out the facts about HIV in the UK.
Living with HIV?
Find out more about becoming a member of press gang: email firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact the press office: email@example.com 0207 8146733 / 07947 725299