Thu, Dec 14, 2006 - Page 8 News List

Letter: Media must educate

By Chiu Hui-yun

HIV/AIDS has become the main problem in Taiwanese society. Most people do not know how to handle this disease. They lack medical knowledge about it and therefore they refuse to make friends with people who have the virus. Although people know that physical contact such as shaking hands, touching bodies or even kissing will not transmit HIV/AIDS, most people seem to have what I call "AIDS phobia."

Has someone ever wondered why this has happened? Maybe the media should take some responsibility.

Let's brainstorm a while. When talking about HIV/AIDS what kind of thoughts pop into your mind? Probably the words homosexual, transgender, drug addiction and unsafe intercourse appear. The mass media has linked gays and lesbians and HIV/AIDS transmission, giving the public a false impression. Maybe they do not intend to do so, but their reports have great influence.

In my opinion, if people wish to make some improvements, the media needs to be the educator for society. Whenever there are humans, there are HIV risks, therefore work needs to be done to educate people about the disease and its related issues.

The media needs to provide educational programs and precise and clear information about it the disease. The mass media is a cheap and convenient source of entertainment, so it plays a key role in creating social realities for the public.

The media needs to remember that most people receive their information from TV, so journalists must be objective. The media must try to reduce false information about this kind of issue and provide correct information as well as provide lessons to the public.

Our culture and social conventions make it difficult for people to speak about HIV/AIDS, to confront the issue, so the problem has gone unexamined -- out of sight, out of mind. Media organizations in any society are the agents who package and distribute the cultural knowledge. Therefore the media gets to set the agenda for the public about what or who is important or of concern in society.

If people do not know to face or talk about HIV/AIDS, media needs to bring up this topic and break the ice. Media workers, show us some spirit.

Chiu Hui-yun

Taoyuan County

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