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« Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 467 -- Reagan Made His Own Image. | WILLisms.com | Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 125. »

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 468 -- AIDS Media Coverage.

A Look Back-

That public funding on HIV/AIDS-related programs in America is absurdly inflated ought to-- by now-- be fairly obvious. Those benefiting from the inflation probably owe a big thank you to the establishment media for decades of distorted media coverage.

For example, back in 1987, the media were obsessed with AIDS. Mandatory AIDS testing for all Americans (or, for select groups), followed by a quarantine for those testing positive, was a legitimate policy prescription in the public discourse. In news stories, 42% of "health experts" favored mandatory testing, and 73% of "non-experts" favored it (.pdf). Pretty incredible, really. Meanwhile, as noted by the Center for Media and Public Affairs back in 1987, the same media went out of their way to underplay the demographics of the disease (.pdf):


Weird. So, on the one hand, the media pushed an agenda of mandatory testing and quarantine, while on the other hand, they sterilized the face of AIDS so middle America wouldn't stigmatize victims. Ryan White was an innocent victim. If it could happen to him, it could happen to anyone. And if it could happen to anyone, it needs "more funding."

What I remember most vividly about AIDS in media and popular culture in the 1980s (and early 1990s) is that it seemed like everyone-- by the year 2000 or so-- would have AIDS. It was an inevitable monster of an epidemic that was going to destroy our entire civilization.

Obviously, all of that was and remains overblown. AIDS impacts a small fraction of 1% of Americans, with all but a handful of new cases attributable to high risk behaviors. We know that now. Yet, we still vastly overfund AIDS research.


Because once government funding is established, it rarely goes away. No matter how inefficient.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Reagan Got Terrible Media Coverage.

Posted by Will Franklin · 17 December 2007 03:25 PM


If only the media could make the case that AIDS was caused merely by bad luck (not anal sex with IV drug using hookers) and the only way to cure it was to use stem cell research on new lines that could only be produced by aborting 1/3 of conceived fetuses.

Then if you don't support AIDS research and Stem Cell Research and Abortion, it is because you hate the 10 sympathetic hemophiliacs that contracted AIDS prior to blood bank testing in the early 1990's.

AIDS is far from a major health crisis in the developed world and it is quickly becoming less of a crisis in the undeveloped world too. Sub-Saharan Africa is still a huge issue, but behaviors there are changing and the world is throwing huge resources at the problem there. Magic has lived with AIDS for 15+ years now. Still healthy. Still working.

Posted by: Justin B. at December 18, 2007 12:16 AM

I agree that once Government funding is established it very rarely goes away. BUT I believe aids research is still extremely necessary. HIV once was a sure death sentence. Today individuals with HIV can live with it. Hopefully one day soon there will be a cure. I am not a embryonic stem cell supporter by any means. BUT sometimes individuals with a high risk of many diseases become more aware of behaviors to prevent diseases such as Aids, Cancer, & Heart disease. I believe Cancer is one of the most over funded diseases around. Alternative cancer treatments are often frowned upon. Yet many people are being cured...

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at December 18, 2007 06:48 AM