ARV article a bit hard to swallow

  • Kim Johnson - 23 November 2012

HIV-related information can be complex, which is why the media need to present it in a digestible way.

It is great to see Bona magazine featuring content which aims to inform readers about HIV treatment.  This month (November 2012) the magazine ran an article on ARVs, listing the different classes of ARVs, how they work and outlining possible side-effects.

Although it is always good to see coverage that addresses an issue that remains germane (though often left out in the media); how that HIV information is communicated is just as important.

HIV is a technically complex topic and the Bona article certainly reflects that.

The piece is comprised completely of dense text and complex medical information – some of which could have been substituted for more practical advice on HIV treatment.

Whilst the article lists side-effects and describes the different classes of ARVs, it lacks information on adherence, especially in a context where HIV treatment is freely available but patients still default.

Bona’s information on how each type of ARV works is potentially helpful but would need to be presented against an explanation of how the virus “works” in order to truly provide insight into the mechanisms of treatment. A graphic representation can further maximise impact.  

The Bona article does prioritise an issue that is of crucial importance in the South African context. But the media’s engagement with HIV should be critical, featuring information that the public needs to know, in a format that is easily digested.

This means presenting potentially complex information in an easy-to-read format. Failing to do so may have readers turning the page on content that looks boring or seems overly technical.

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“the media should feature HIV information that the public needs to know, in a format that is easily disgested”