Hot in the media – Media Watch
Despite evidence that disproves the popular belief that antiretroviral (ARVs) drugs are an ingredient in nayope or “whoonga”, media coverage on the street drug continues to perpetuate this misconception.
This week a story on community action against whoonga in the Sowetan (6 May 2013) listed ARVs as one of the primary ingredients after heroin.
Even internationally-renowned sources such as NPR make the mistake of describing whoonga as a “concoction of an AIDS medication and a street drug, like marijuana or heroin” as recently as December 2012.
While the spread of whoonga use is certainly a newsworthy and distressing societal ill, many news outlets have been negligent in stopping the spread of another problem: the inaccurate perception that antiretroviral (ARV) drugs – in particular, the drug efavirenz – are an active ingredient in the street drug.
DSTV competitor TopTV made news this week after the broadcaster’s bid to add three paid porn channels to its bouquet was successful.
Given that TopTV was relegated to the business rescue basket at the end of last year, the broadcaster is no doubt hoping that its raunchy repertoire will live up to that age old premise: sex sells.
But what about porn’s potential for selling safer sex?
Media coverage on TopTV’s bid to bring X-rated porn channels to South African screens has largely focused on fierce opposition by organisations like the Family Policy Institute and Sonke Gender Justice.
The alarming misconception that sexual intercourse with a virgin can cure HIV infection still endures in South African society today, with tragic consequences.
Recent coverage of the alleged rape of a two-year-old girl by her HIV-positive father in The Star is a reminder of the serious dangers of persisting misinformation about the virus.
Of the many HIV-related myths that are still in circulation, the virgin myth – which claims that HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases can be cured by having sex with a virgin – is perhaps the most medieval (indeed, the belief is thought to have originated from 16th century Europe).
Report draws on a range of sources to provide necessary context and additional information in response to the Shembe Nazareth Baptist Church’s call for its members to circumcise against HIV.
A great deal of enthusiasm has been edging on the recent national rollout of medical male circumcision (MMC) as a HIV prevention tool. Soon after the WHO granted its official stamp of approval to the procedure, billboards, pamphlets, SMS services, facebook groups, radio programmes and advertorials all announced MMC as a viable and safe way for men to reduce their HIV risk.
But perhaps the most zealous endorsement came last week when a religious leader decreed that all men in his 3 million strong congregation consider the procedure.
New Mail&Guardian health journalism centre takes a fresh focus on the vital importance of quality health news.
People rely heavily on the news to form opinions – be it on politics, the market or whether or not coffee really is bad for you. Often those opinions go on to inform actions or instead motivate inaction. These decisions ultimately have consequences – for our careers, our finances and often our health.
It is a simple chain of events that makes it quite clear why accurate, reliable and unbiased news is so important.