The Color of AIDS: An Analysis of newspaper coverage of HIV/AIDS in the United States from 1992-2007.


Although overall HIV rates have declined in the U.S. over the past two decades, these declines have been accompanied by steady growth in infection rates among African Americans, creating persistent racial disparities in HIV infection. News media have been instrumental in educating and informing the public about the epidemic. This content analytic study examines the frequency and content of coverage of HIV/AIDS in national and local U.S. daily newspapers from December 1992 through December 2007 with a focus on the presentation of risk by population subgroups. A computerized search term was used to identify HIV/AIDS-related news coverage from 24 daily U.S. newspapers and one wire service across a 15-year period (N = 53,934 stories). Human and computerized coding methods were used to examine patterns in frequency and content in the sample. Results indicate a decline in coverage of the epidemic over the study period. There was also a marked shift in the portrayal of risk in the U.S., from a domestic to an international focus. When coverage did address HIV/AIDS among groups with disproportionately high risk in the U.S., it typically failed to provide context for the disparity beyond individual behavioral risk factors. The meta-message of news coverage of HIV during this period may have reduced the visibility of the impact of HIV/AIDS on Americans. The practice of reporting the racial disparity without providing context may have consequences for the general public's ability to interpret these disparities.

Cite this paper

@article{Stevens2013TheCO, title={The Color of AIDS: An Analysis of newspaper coverage of HIV/AIDS in the United States from 1992-2007.}, author={Robin Stevens and Shawnika J Hull}, journal={Critical arts}, year={2013}, volume={27 3}, pages={352-369} }