Polarised press reporting about HIV prevention: Social representations of pre-exposure prophylaxis in the UK press

Date

2016-05-22

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Article

Peer reviewed

Yes

Abstract

Pre-exposure prophylaxis is a novel biomedical HIV prevention option for individuals at high risk of HIV acquisition. Although pre-exposure prophylaxis has yielded encouraging results in various clinical trials, opponents argue that pre-exposure prophylaxis poses a number of risks to human health and to sexually transmitted infection prevention efforts. Using qualitative thematic analysis and social representation theory, this article explores coverage of pre-exposure prophylaxis in the UK print media between 2008 and 2015 in order to chart the emerging social representations of this novel HIV prevention strategy. The analysis revealed two competing social representations of pre-exposure prophylaxis: (1) as a positive development in the ‘battle’ against HIV (the hope representation) and (2) as a medical, social and psychological setback in this battle, particularly for gay/bisexual men (the risk representation). These social representations map onto the themes of pre-exposure prophylaxis as a superlatively positive development; pre-exposure prophylaxis as a weapon in the battle against HIV/AIDS; and risk, uncertainty and fear in relation to pre-exposure prophylaxis. The hope representation focuses on taking (individual and collective) responsibility, while the risk representation focuses on attributing (individual and collective) blame. The implications for policy and practice are discussed.

Description

The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.

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Citation

Jaspal, R. and Nerlich, B. (2017) Polarised Reporting about HIV Prevention: Social Representations of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) in the UK Press. Health: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health, Illness and Medicine, 21 (5), pp. 478-497

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Research Institute

Media Discourse Centre (MDC)
Mary Seacole Research Centre