The National AIDS Trust (NAT) has launched the latest issue of its policy bulletin Impact, which aims to stimulate debate on HIV policy topics.

This issue focuses on the media and HIV and examines the current state of reporting of the virus.

NAT want to draw attention to how inaccurate and stigmatising coverage can be challenged and how constructive discussion of HIV can be encouraged.

The UK has the fastest growing rate of HIV infection in Western Europe, yet the HIV epidemic in the UK struggles to get a mention in the mainstream press, even around World AIDS Day.

The media is a vital tool in the fight against HIV. However, Impact reveals how the media in the UK can also misinform readers about HIV and reinforce prejudice.

Deborah Jack, chief executive of the NAT, said:

“NAT is working to engage and inform journalists on HIV issues and will publish new guidance on how to report HIV in the UK with the National Union of Journalists next month.”

Inaccurate, stigmatising articles, particularly around criminal prosecutions for HIV transmission and immigrants living with HIV, are published on a regular basis, influencing public attitudes.

NAT monitor the media, complain to editors about stigmatising and inaccurate coverage and encourage people living with HIV and other organisations to do the same.

There are positive aspects to the media’s approach to AIDS.

One article looks at the successful use of community radio in Sub-Saharan Africa for public awareness campaigns and to address controversial issues surrounding HIV and AIDS.

Two people living with HIV in the UK also speak about their mainly positive experiences of engaging with the media.