HIV/AIDS in the Public Sphere

What is the public sphere? According to the Oxford dictionary of Critical Theory, the public sphere is a term for any realm of social life in which public opinion can be formed. This can be done via magazines, newspapers, radio news, tv news and the internet. In the way of HIV/AIDS though, how many newspapers, magazines, radio news channels etc have placed an info sesh  for people to voice their opinion and educate the otherwise uneducated public? Not many. Recently, I asked a bunch of my friends to give a brief overview of what they knew about HIV/AIDS. The answers they gave me very much so varied, but there was a very visible gap in between who was educated and who wasn’t. I will keep the responses anonymous, but here is the result:

“Its a sexually transmitted disease that can be passed on to unborn babies even years after being diagnosed, it can also be passed on through dirty needles or if your blood and someone who has HIV/AIDS blood are mixed. It isn’t curable but there a ways to help with symptoms…”

“There are ways of ensuring that mothers don’t pass it onto the babies… It’s preventable but lack of education and meds in poorer countries as well as environmental conditions affect its transmission….”

“can be transmitted by breast feeding as well, hiv is a retrovirus, kills helper cell(c4, cd4 something like that) or attaches to them then the t cell(cd8?) come in and destroy them. This results in the immune deficiency or aids, which leads to a reduction in ones ability [to] fight cancer, disease, viruses, germs. this means something like the cold can kill you…”

“It should be avoided at all costs”

“Yeah what they said lol”

Just in the small group of people I asked, a big differ can be seen not only in the way they’ve been educated but also in the manner in which the topic was approached. The small “lol” at the end of the last response shows not only a possible lack of confidence about the issue but it could also act as an indicator of ignorance.  Recently radio station Triple J hosted ‘Sex Week’, where every weekday evening between 5-5:30pm people would call in and talk about their ‘sex’ stories. One of the days was STI day, and the story heard was that of 20 year old’s, Steph; where the question posed was ‘would you date someone who is HIV positive?’ I think the outcomes of this particular story and other people’s STI stories acted as an excellent way to get much needed information out there as Triple J is a nation wide radio station and even has international access aimed at a younger audience. These stories make people realize, ‘wow, these people are actually normal!’

On a note of finalisation, I am going to conclude this post with a video from Australian website TuneInNotOut about Australian youth sufferers of HIV/AIDS. I’ll let you form an opinion on how you think the public sphere has created the way we look at HIV/AIDS.

 

References:

TuneInNotOut 2010, accessed 28/04/12, http://www.tuneinnotout.com/

TuneInNotOut 2012, HIV, accessed 28/04/12, http://www.tuneinnotout.com/topics/sex/sti/hiv/

Triple J, 2010, Hack: Positively Dating, accessed 28/04/12, http://www.abc.net.au/triplej/hack/stories/s3431357.htm

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