September 2011

2-8 September 2011—HIV News Update.

In this issue:

  • NAT tests: Bloodly marvellous! According to The Star, in the past up to two South Africans per year became infected with HIV through blood transfusions, but thanks to nucleic acid testing (NAT), introduced in 2005, that number has dropped to and remained at zero for the past 5 years.
  • Tabloid readers HIV aware: JournAIDS has blogged about the Daily Sun and Sunday Sun tabloids’ ‘HIV friendly’ approach before but Monday’s edition of the Daily Sun suggests that readers may actually be responding to the tabloids’ inclusion of HIV issues.
  • Sowetan steps up tot he plate: An article in the Sowetan hints at the news media becoming aware of the role they have to play in educating the public on all things HIV.
  • Provincial funding fiasco: An article in yesterday’s The Times has reports that “corruption and incompetence” are standing in the way of efficient expenditure of HIV grants.
  • TNA ticks all the boxes: A featured article in The New Age (TNA) uncovers the SA prisons system’s secret scourge. Choruses of assenting and dissenting voices, broaching all aspects of the matter allow for an informative and balanced article.
  • You can't spell STI without HIV: Anyone putting sexually transmitted infections (STIs) on the agenda deserves more than a pat on the back, but not including HIV in a discussion on STIs could earn them a slap on the wrist.



9-16 September 2011—HIV News Update.

In this issue:

  • Agony Aunts: Love trianges are also HIV's 'Bermuda' triangles: While agony-aunts have traditionally offered us an objective, sympathetic and supportive shoulder to cry on, they should embrace and use their platforms to spread the word on HIV prevention.
  • Manyi's editing eye picks up real news: Today the front page of the ‘Manyi Times’ screams ‘Winning the HIV battle.’ It’s hard to choose what to be more bemused about: The fact that HIV seems to be front page news or the slightly controversial Jimmy Manyi having a newspaper named after his person.
  • Glow-in-the-dark felines: The 'cat's meow' of HIV research: A glow-in-the-dark cat-slash-monkey hybrid... Sounds like something that a mad creator unleashes, which inevitably ends up terrorizing Tokyo.
  • Articles on forced jabs choose sensation over information: Reports of contraceptive injections administered to girls as young as 10 at a primary school in Port Elizabeth, have raised a dull hum throughout the news media. However reports leave questions around rape and HIV and HIV prevention in general unaddressed.
  • ART, lies and videotape: It is estimated that over 300, 000 HIV-positive South Africans who could have lived long and healthy lives on ART, died from the effects of uncontrolled HIV infection during the Mbeki-Manto HIV misinformation era.
  • Zulu Reed dance: Virginity testing, purity (and prevention?): While the Swazis are 'defending' their reed dance virgins against “unscrupulous” men who aim to court and compromise them, the Zulu Reed dance is in a different, but related, pickle.
  • SA HIV prevention gets a shot in the arm: Hopes of eradicating HIV run high as the latest and greatest HIV vaccine trial heads to SA.
  • SA woman scientist scoops award: A South African microbicide scientist has scooped up the Department of Science and Technology’s Woman in Science award.

17-22 September 2011—HIV News Update.

In this issue:

  • Papers should use 'AIDS' more carefully: News articles continue to confuse the HIV and AIDS issues by using the wrong terms in the wrong contexts. Besides the fact that this is technically incorrect, HIV terminology should reflect the changing nature of the condition, which has been mediated by interventions.
  • "Momma" doesn't slay the myth monster: Following our articles on the potential for Agony Aunts to address HIV, yesterday The Star's ‘Momma’ tackled the HIV aspect of a correspondents unprotected sex story. And while JournAIDS is happy to see Momma using her power as a source of HIV information, there is still a fly in the ointment, or rather the ‘oil’.
  • New focus on non-communicable diseases: Following on news that world leaders are meeting in New York this week to co-ordinate a response to non-communicable diseases (which do not spread from person to person, or from animal/insect to human), a smattering of articles on the looming threat these conditions pose have appeared in the news media.
  • Rethinking risk: With the commendable strides in biomedical intervention garnering the bulk of our already scant HIV media coverage, the Sunday Times’ focus on young South Africans’ behaviour this week presented a welcome change of pace. But those looking forward to a meaningful engagement with issues around sexual behaviour would have been somewhat disappointed.
  • The stuck record: The SA media and HIV terminology: “Aids virus”, “HIV-AIDS”; The South African media continue to use outmoded, out dated and outright incorrect terms when writing about the HIV epidemic.
  • Hugs and drugs: Behaviour change still needs work: It’s the kind of story that elicits gasps, something that is reminiscent of an episode of the Jerry Springer show. Someone ‘intentionally’ infecting their partner with HIV is probably right up there with most people’s worst nightmare because it represents emotional and bodily betrayal all rolled up in one.

23-29 September 2011—HIV News Update

In this issue:

  • AIDS a factor in slowing population growth: Reports that population growth is slowing and that AIDS-related deaths remain a contributing factor illustrate that there are still HIV-related challenges that need to be addressed.
  • Withdrawal of donor funding starting to show: While Archbishop Desmond Tutu lamented anticipated cuts in donor funding for HIV in a piece published by The Star this week, a TNA article has indicated that the situation might be becoming a reality.
  • Buthelezi backs virginity testing: Childline has put the brakes on Mangosuthu Buthelezi's praise of virginity testing as a key factor in HIV prevention.
  • The King' speech: Focusing on the role of men: In his speech delivered at the weekend’s Heritage Day celebrations, Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini took an uncharacteristic and more welcome approach to HIV prevention messaging, focusing on men’s role in the epidemic.
  • Headlines send seemingly contradictory messages around the need for safe sex: If you are a dedicated reader of The Star and the Sunday Times you might be forgiven for being somewhat confused as to whether risky sex is a contributing factor to the spread of HIV among young South Africans.
  • HIV coverage picks up: As another Monday rolled around HIV coverage could be described as thick and fast. City Press, The Star and the Sunday Times were among those publications providing us with a smorgasbord of HIV-related articles at the start of the week.
  • Gauteng health's cash flow woes: Earlier this week The Times reported that the Gauteng health department has failed to reach important goals and targets because of ‘self-induced’ cash flow problems.
  • SA's approach to 'underage' sex is two-faced: The Mail&Guardian's Mia Malan gets to grips with the struggle on how to address teen pregnancy, which sees conservatives and human rights approach activists at loggerheads.

30 September-6 October 2011—HIV News Update

In this issue:

  • Cured by the classifieds? An advert in the Sowetan's Classifieds raises questions around the ethics of publishing content containing misleading and unsubstantiated information which could have negative consequences for people’s health.
  • Too quick to condemn girls' use of condoms: A slightly quirky article on schoolgirls keeping their socks up with condoms really shows that some reporters may need to pull their socks up when it comes to interrogating an issue.
  • Traditional male circumcision: A cleaner cut: This week a slightly incoherent Daily Sun article emphasised the fact that traditional leaders and the Department of Health are collaborating to minimize the deaths and injuries associated with traditional circumcision.
  • Safety first for SA porn: Sexy, saucy, steamy-but what about safe? Although both women’s magazine True Love and the City Press newspaper have penned lengthy pieces about the booming porn industry in SA, neither has bothered to ask pressing questions around condom use.
  • 'Fuzzy' artcile says orphan numbers up: Growing concern over the state of South African families was the focus of a rather ‘fuzzy’ article in The Citizen. According to the article, South African families are crumbling due to AIDS, poverty and unemployment, leaving a vast number of orphans and vulnerable children in their wake.


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.