August 2011

5-11 August 2011— HIV News Update.

In this issue:

  • Pregnancy and HIV: Two birds, two stones? Confused head-scratching must have been what greeted an article in The New Age which featured a bizarre and uncontextualised quote from Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi on HIV prevention and teen pregnancy.
  • SA foreskins used to freshen foreign faces? Does South Africa know where its discarded foreskins go? The Medical Rights Advocacy Network fears that once the small strips of tissue are separated from their young hosts they could be illegally sold and exported to global cosmetic companies.
  • Turning a silk purse into a sow's ear: Hospital stigma and PMTCT: The Times and the Daily Sun have reported that pregnant women are being mocked, slapped, pinched and even bribed in South Africa’s public hospitals. To add insult to injury, HIV-positive mothers-to-be are also subjected to treatment which could seriously endanger their lives and their babies’ lives.
  • Successful 'circumcision season' marred by few deaths: The New Age reports on the relative success of this year’s so-called 'circumcision season,' documenting both the good and the bad.
  • H and I and V: Give us the full story: The Daily Sun has provided us with yet another article that aims to enlighten its readership about HIV. While the JournAIDS team is pleased to see that HIV is still an important topic for this paper, providing enough information and the right information is just as important as featuring information on HIV.
  • Gogo gold: telling tales: “My son Phumie died when he was struck by lightening…His brother and sister both died of Aids so I have one child left…”These are the stories of the gogos (grandmothers) in Eric Miller's exhibition.

12-18 August 2011—HIV News Update.

In this issue:

  • Sies Sowetan for failing to address safe sex angle: The Sowetan's  borderline-pornographic coverage of police officers bonking (in their words) certainly has, as the editor predicted, got the nation talking. But forget drawing any real attention to police negligence or failures of the system, the gratuitous material got tongues wagging about one thing more than any other - sex.
  • Demystifying the female condom: Plus News has featured an article breaking the silence around the Bigfoot of contraception and protection, the female condom. The article offers some insight into how the device could be one of the best things you’ve never heard of but also considers its downfalls.
  • Loaning and groaning: suggestions for Swaziland: Do you have an opinion on how Swaziland should use the money loaned to them from SA? Maybe the more pertinent question to ask is: Who doesn’t have an opinion on what Swaziland should spend its hand out on?
  • Soaps and tabloids make top team: The Daily Sun and local soap operas are making good on their potential to be a formidable HIV awareness team.
  • Come out swinging: Following through can drive change: In some ways investigative journalism is like a good tennis swing. A good swing requires follow through to make sure that the ball achieves the desired momentum. Investigative journalism also requires follow through. Researching, writing and publishing the story are but one part of the job. But making the effort to follow the story through to its conclusion and allowing the story to build momentum can drive change.
  • Praise for earlier start to ART: Both The Citizen and The New Age have featured comment which praises the government’s decision to raise the criteria for ARV treatment from a CD4 count of 200 to 350 for all HIV-positive South Africans.
  • All systems go on the NHI: The National Health Insurance (NHI) was in the spotlight this week. The proposal was finally given the green light by cabinet on Wednesday.

19-25 August 2011—HIV News Update.

In this issue:

  • Staying 'abreast' of news coverage: News reports on the consultative meeting on breastfeeding have dominated the news media this week.
  • Jane's story: No why, no how: The Sowetan misses yet another opportunity to address issues of safe sex.
  • Motlanthe emphasises prevention at NCOP meeting: On Thursday deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe gave a harrowing overview of South Africa's HIV epidemic, warning that "the rate of new infections continues to outpace" prevention efforts.
  • Dispelling HIV myths: Knowledge is power: The Mail&Guardian's Bonitas health supplement does a sterling job of dispelling common myths around HIV.
  • HIV sets the stage for other players: Through showing that a high HIV prevalence is a back drop against which other dramas are played out, The New Age (TNA) have given us a good example of how HIV can, and should, be mainstreamed in the news media.
  • Questions around the exclusive breatsfeeding plan: The Mail&Guardian reports that doctors and HIV-positive mothers have voiced the opinion that the Government's new exclusive breatsfeeding plan is good on paper but may not work in the real world.
  • Sisters are doing it for themselves: It is no secret that poorly staffed and under-staffed clinics are hurting prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV efforts in South Africa. One only has to look as far as last week which saw the release of a damning Human Rights Watch (HRW) report which revealed that HIV-positive mothers-to-be were often subject to appalling treatment in state hospitals.


25 August-1 September 2011—HIV News Update

In this issue:

  • Swati reed dance: Abstain is the only refrain: Media reports of sex at the traditional Swazi reed dance beg the question: Should certain cultural practices change in the context of HIV?
  • Neonatal circumcision: Are you in or out? The debate on neonatal circumcision continues, sparked by a SANAC proposal which might see the practice become more widespread.
  • SANAC's sweet tooth: Anybody with a sweet tooth could automatically become a ‘sweet-heart’ if SANAC’s tax plan becomes a reality.
  • Female condoms: More power to you: The Bigfoot of HIV prevention is back.The feamle condom is in the spotlight again, but its lack of popularity raises awkward questions around what the government is doing to protect women from HIV while MMC campaigns receive the lions-share of the prevention attention.
  • HCT numbers spell success, says Minister: The Times and the Sowetan report that the government’s national HIV counseling and testing (HCT) campaign has been a success, reaching more than 14.7 million South Africans in just over a year.
  • Ignorance, the HIV fear factory: An article from The New Age (TNA) shows that only through actively learning about HIV can we address the fear, stigma and negative attitudes that continue to cling to the virus in South Africa.


Wits Journalism Anova Health

The project is jointly managed by the Anova Health Institute and the Journalism and Media Studies Programme at the University of the Witwatersrand, and supported by the Health Communication Partnership based at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Centre for Communication Programmes and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS relief through the United States Agency for International Development under terms of Award No. JH/HESA-02-05.