More U.S. Residents Gather Health Information, Including HIV/AIDS Information, From Fictional TV Shows, Los Angeles Times Reports
Increasing numbers of U.S. residents gather and trust health information, including HIV/AIDS information, seen on fictional prime-time television shows, the Los Angeles Times reports. According to a survey conducted by CDC in 1999, 50% of the 38 million U.S. residents who regularly watch daytime soap operas said they learned something about diseases and prevention methods. The survey also found that one-third of participants said they took some action based on what they learned, including 7% who reported visiting a physician and 6% who reported that they did something to prevent a health problem. In addition, a CDC survey conducted in 2000 found that of the U.S. residents who watched prime-time TV at least twice weekly, 52% said they trusted the health information they saw to be accurate, while 26% said that prime-time TV was one of their top three sources for health information. Now "health advocates are figuring out how to work with entertainment television," according to the Times. The KNOW HIV/AIDS public education initiative -- a joint venture of CBS and Viacom, in partnership with the Kaiser Family Foundation -- holds annual briefings during which TV writers and producers are provided with real-life stories of people living with HIV/AIDS. CBS' "Without a Trace" Executive Producers Jan Nash and Greg Walker attended one of these briefings, during which they said they decided to include an HIV storyline in the show's April 13 episode. The episode examined the case of a pregnant HIV-positive woman who disappeared in the last weeks of her pregnancy. "We heard these testimonials, and we were moved by the accounts," Walker said. Tina Hoff -- director of Entertainment Media Partnerships at the Kaiser Family Foundation who worked with Nash and Walker -- said that research conducted by CDC and the Kaiser Family Foundation has "reinforced that you just can't ignore the role of entertainment media in people's lives." She added, "We're not the creative visionaries, [b]ut once a story line is developed, we can help ensure that it's accurate" (Brink, Los Angeles Times, 11/13).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.