Perilous Silences and Counterproductive Narratives Pertaining to HIV/AIDS in the Ugandan, Lesotho and Namibian Press
Sammanfattning: Research on Western mainstream media’s framing of HIV/AIDS in the 1980’s, showed that media narratives influenced audiences’ understanding of the epidemic, as well as society’s responses. Subsequently, by analyzing a society’s mass media and its framing of HIV/AIDS, it is possible to explore what understandings are given preferential treatment in that society, as well as explore what social change those narratives indirectly or directly facilitate. Such an analysis is particularly important in Sub-Saharan Africa, the continent most affected by HIV/AIDS and which has struggled to reverse the course of the epidemic. This dissertation has in five separate articles, not only identified and described media narratives on HIV/AIDS and the closely related topic of same-sex sexuality in three countries hard-hit by the epidemic –Lesotho, Namibia and Uganda – but also discussed the potential effects of persistent silences, as well as narratives that are counterproductive to the countries’ ability to respond to their epidemics. The research uses a combination of quantitative and qualitative approaches: content analysis of independent and government-controlled print media products, semi-structured interviews with media practitioners and representatives from organizations that seek to influence the media agenda, as well as analysis of legislative and policy documents.The articles discuss a range of persistent silences and counterproductive narratives on HIV/AIDS in the three countries. Overall, the media is found to largely fail in providing its readers with narratives that contain many of the particular factors – economic, social, cultural, biological, as well as those related to stigma and discrimination –that fuel their epidemics. The research however also finds differences between the countries and the types of media. In particular privately-owned media is found to play important role in terms of acknowledging the existence of same-sex sexuality as well as relevance in relation to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment services in Namibian and Ugandan.
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