U.S. Media Needs to Pay More Attention to HIV/AIDS in Africa, Opinion Piece Says
"Why does nearly every American know that our secretary of state went to the Middle East, but practically no American knows that our secretary for health and human services went to Africa [last month]?" Shepard Smith, founder and president of the Institute for Youth Development, asks in a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel opinion piece. Smith, who joined HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson on his four-country tour of Africa last month, states that upon his return he could find no media coverage of the trip although there were plenty of reports about Secretary of State Colin Powell's recent trip to the Middle East. He notes that both Thompson's and Powell's trip concerned matters of national security and had "global economic implications." Smith asks, "What is it that kept AIDS and Africa out of the newspapers, especially given that AIDS in America often captures headlines?" He continues, "Whatever the reason, it's a shame. While debate swirled around the success or failure of the Powell mission, the success of the Thompson mission is inarguable." Smith notes that two weeks after Thompson's visit with South African officials, the South African cabinet announced a "180-degree turn" on HIV/AIDS policies that will "save countless lives." Smith concludes, "Americans need to hear the important strides our government is making in crafting a partnership between the United States and African countries to fight HIV/AIDS. It's vitally important to our national interest. Unfortunately, in this tale of two cabinet members, the one who went to Africa to take on the greatest epidemic in world history did so invisibly, at least in this country" (Smith, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 5/12).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.