Date of Award

2010

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Communications Honours

School

School of Communications and Arts

Faculty

Faculty of Education & Arts

First Advisor

Dr Trevor Cullen

Abstract

This is the first research project on press coverage of HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) and AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) in Australia for 11 years. The study contains a content analysis of four Australian publications between January 1st and March 31st, 2010. In addition, the health editors at The Australian and The West Australian were interviewed to establish what considerations are made when deciding to publish an article dealing with HIV/AIDS. The latest report from UNAIDS estimated that globally, over 33 million people were living with HIV, and two million people died from AIDS-related illnesses in 2008. HIV infection rates in Australia have also increased by 38 per cent in the last eleven years. In light of these numbers, the aim of this study is to investigate whether a section of the Australian press reports on HIV/AIDS. This will give an indication of whether a part of the Australian press is performing one of its central roles, which is to inform its readers. The results from this study suggest that the number of articles written about HIV/AIDS has decreased considerably since the last study by Lupton in 1999 was conducted, and that HIV/AIDS is an 'old story' that is hard to write about. The implication is that there might be fewer stories on HIV/AIDS in the Australian press in the future.

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