This study examined the effect of newspaper coverage of HIV/AIDS on HIV testing behavior in a U.S. population. HIV testing data were taken from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System from 1993 to 2007 (N = 265,557). The authors content-analyzed news stories from 24 daily newspapers and 1 wire service during the same time period. The authors used distributed lagged regression models to estimate how well HIV/AIDS newspaper coverage predicted later HIV testing behavior. Increases in HIV/AIDS newspaper coverage were associated with declines in population-level HIV testing. Each additional 100 HIV/AIDS-related newspaper stories published each month was associated with a 1.7% decline in HIV testing levels in the subsequent month. This effect differed by race, with African Americans exhibiting greater declines in HIV testing subsequent to increased news coverage than did Whites. These results suggest that mainstream newspaper coverage of HIV/AIDS may have a particularly deleterious effect on African Americans, one of the groups most affected by the disease. The mechanisms driving the negative effect deserve further investigation to improve reporting on HIV/AIDS in the media.
“AIDS in Black and White: The Influence of Newspaper Coverage of HIV/AIDS on HIV/AIDS Testing Among African Americans and White Americans, 1993–2007.” Journal of Health Communication, 2014.