An international team of researchers has revealed that media coverage on HIV/AIDS has fallen by more than 70 percent in developed countries over the last 20 years.
While in the early 1990s, an average of 1.5 articles linked to HIV/AIDS could be found in every issue of the main broadsheet newspapers, levels of coverage have dropped to below 0.5 articles per newspaper issue since 2008.
Coverage in French and US-based newspapers has decreased particularly dramatically during this period.
The findings are part of an ongoing study into sustainability-related media coverage worldwide by the University of Leeds, Queen's University Belfast, the Berlin-based Institute for Futures Studies and Technology Assessment (IZT) and Euromed Management School in Marseille.
The Trends in Sustainability project tracks coverage of issues such as climate change, poverty and human rights in 115 leading broadsheets newspapers from 41 countries over a 20-year period from 1990 until May 2010.
To date the research has looked at approximately 69,000,000 articles in 410,000 newspaper issues, and the results have been used to generate a new website, trendsinsustainability.com, which launches on World AIDS Day.
The research shows that while attention to sustainability-related issues has increased overall during the last 20 years, the media agenda in this area has changed considerably.
In general, coverage of environmental problems like acid rain and the ozone hole, which have been successfully addressed, has diminished since the early 1990s.
On the other hand, articles on climate change have increased more than 10-fold since this time, amounting to an average of more than two articles per newspaper issue across the overall sample of 115 newspapers.
However, this changing agenda has been largely identified in newspapers based in the developed world. Attention levels in areas that are hit hardest by the AIDS pandemic - such as South Africa - have remained at a high level or even increased throughout the last 20 years.
As the vast majority of research into HIV/AIDS takes place in the developed world, the researchers argue that a lack of interest in these countries might hamper the advance of solutions for the spreading pandemic in developing countries, particularly Sub-Saharan Africa. (ANI)