Fish pedicures and HIV: Twisting the fish’s tale

  • Kim - 20 October 2011

An internationally syndicated article published in this week’s The Star uses unsupported alarmist statements  to ‘spice up’ an otherwise mundane press release designed to allay fears of health risks linked to fish pedicures.

The article opens by alleging that the latest beauty treatment craze, where fish are used to nibble dead skin cells from the feet, can spread serious infections like HIV.

But the press release on which the article is based does not even mention HIV in relation to the treatment.

In fact, the British Health Protection Agency examined the risks of catching various infections from or during the treatment and has concluded that they are “extremely low.” And only recommends that people living with HIV, diabetics and people suffering from psoriasis avoid the fishy fad.

It is clear that in this case the journalist chose the route of sensationalist story spinning above reporting the information accurately and in a balanced fashion.

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“reporting the information accurately & in a balanced fashion took a back-seat to sensationalist story spinning”