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NAT calls on journalists to get up-to-date about HIV

Friday, July 24, 2009

Guidelines aim to improve reporting of HIV in the UK

In response to continued concerns about inaccurate and stigmatising coverage of HIV in UK media NAT (National AIDS Trust) is today launching Guidelines for Reporting HIV: Supplementary Information, an update to the NUJ/NAT 2007 guidelines. This practical guide allows journalists and editors to ensure they are up-to-date on HIV and check their stories are accurate.

In the year to date NAT has counted over 25 articles in the UK press, a frequency of more that one a week, which contain inaccuracies about HIV. Common errors include exaggerating the risk of HIV transmission from spitting, biting and discarded needles and misunderstanding the length of time needed to wait before having an HIV test. 
The supplement provides up-to-date information on the risk of HIV transmission and the new types of HIV test available. It also contains a section on the myth of HIV health tourism which reflects latest evidence and corrects allegations made about HIV health tourism to the UK.
Deborah Jack Chief Executive of NAT comments:
“The media has a huge influence on people’s attitudes and understanding of HIV, often it is the only source of information for the public about HIV.   
Misreporting of HIV in the UK press is worryingly frequent and has a direct impact on people’s lives. Overstating the risk of infection creates unnecessary anxiety, increases stigma for people living with HIV and adds to misunderstandings that already abound about HIV. Many people living with HIV tell us they are very concerned at the number of articles in the media that sensationalise and stigmatise HIV.
There are more people than ever before living with HIV across the UK. They are working, attending schools and actively involved in their communities, so it is important that information about HIV in the press is accurate and responsible.”

These guidelines are one part of NAT’s work to improving reporting about HIV. 
NAT regularly writes to editors to correct errors when they occur, encourages people living with HIV to get involved in the media and also works with managing editors and journalism colleges to improve journalists' knowledge and understanding.
Guidelines for Reporting HIV can be downloaded here.

Notes to the editor:

For further information please contact:

Katherine Sladden
Communications Officer
020 7814 6733 / 07947 725299
NAT (National AIDS Trust) is the UK’s leading charity dedicated to transforming society’s response to HIV. We provide fresh thinking, expert advice and practical resources. We campaign for change.
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