Yesterday, on 1st March 2021, HIV Ireland hosted a webinar to launch their new Media Reporting Guidelines, to help journalists and editors in how to talk about HIV and AIDS. I was fortunate to be asked to take part as a panellist alongside Órla Ryan from theJournal.ie. Unfortunately, Conor Feehan from the Irish Independent was called away to a breaking story, so was unable to be there.
Back in 2010, I noted that the UK’s National Aids Trust had developed similar Guidelines for Reporting HIV. It is great that Ireland now has guidelines which are up-to-date. They are very similar to those from NAT, but even in the eleven years which have elapsed since the NAT Guidelines were published, language and key messages have changed. Since then we now have the very clear understanding that if a person living with HIV is on effective treatment, then they cannot pass the virus on via sex. This is a key message that we need to emphasise:
U = U: Undetectable = Untransmittable
Key messages to journalists and editors
Media coverage can play an important role in educating the public and in reducing fear of, and stigma surrounding, HIV. All audiences deserve full, accurate, and intelligent coverage of HIV and HIV-related issues which is easily understood.
Summary Media Reporting Guidelines: HIV, HIV Ireland, 2021.
Significant scientific advancements have been made in the treatment and prevention of HIV in recent years which has seen the narrative change in relation to how HIV is reflected in media reporting. Good media reporting can educate the public about successful developments and play a part in ending HIV transmissions. We encourage the media to include progressive messages when reporting on HIV and to follow our Best Practice Tips for Reporting on HIV to help reduce stigma and improve the quality of life for people living with HIV.
Best practice tips for reporting on HIV
- Understand the science of HIV.
- Frame HIV as a health issue.
- Use appropriate language and correct terminology.
- Ensure that HIV data is current and correctly interpreted.
- Challenge myths and misinformation about HIV.
- Be sensitive and do not stigmatise.
- Challenge stereoptypes.
- Tell the stories of people living with HIV.
- Respect confidentiality.
- Seek verification.
- Refer to support services.
Essential HIV messages
- HIV is a treatable, chronic condition.
- HIV cannot be transmitted through sex when a person living with HIV is on effective treatment.
- Testing reduces and prevents HIV transmission.
- PrEP can prevent HIV acquisition.
- PEP can prevent HIV acquisition.
- There is currently no evidence that people living with HIV on effective treatment are at an increased risk of acquiring COVID-19 or at higher risk of serious illness if they acquire COVID-19.
Read the full guidelines
The full guidelines can be found at hivireland.ie/mediareportingguidelines/