Few modern health issues have received as much media interest and controversy as the AIDS virus. The AIDS virus was first named in 1981 to explain a collection of diseases that developed as a result of a compromised immune system. Individuals who were young and apparently healthy were showing signs of conditions that were typical of those with a severely depressed immune response. It was also noted, at the time, these conditions were limited to the gay community. As the disease became more prevalent, individuals, groups, and communities responded in fear and hatred toward the population they believed to be responsible for this epidemic, the gay community. Because the issue of gay rights was politically controversial and our president’s platform was essentially anti-gay, AIDS was ignored by the administration. The political and media response in the early days of the AIDS virus was essentially nonexistent. Prejudice by the American people prompted politicians, who were concerned for their reputations, to step back. The media, also influenced by a political agenda, kept their coverage benign and low key. The impact of this slow media response to the AIDS epidemic would have disastrous consequences.
Health communication, at its most effective incorporates the study and use of communication strategies to education, inform, and influence individual and societal decisions for the purpose of promoting health (Site, 2012). The goal of health communication is to promote healthy lifestyle changes and practices in a population through the use of communication methods and tools. Health communication covers a variety of health issues including disease prevention, health promotion, health care policy, and the improvement of the quality of life and health of individuals within the community (Site, 2012). In the case of AIDS, the media’s involvement was counterintuitive to the mainstream American culture at that the time. This example of media power, in absence, fostered smaller fanatical groups to dictate the perceptions of the culture regarding AIDS. Religious leaders and local government groups took up the banner condemning the gay community for bringing this epidemic upon them. Religious groups brandished AIDS as God’s way of irradiating the gay population through a modern day plague. Thousands of people were dying from the virus while the government remained silent. This was a dark time in the history of our country. When the AIDs virus began infecting famous personalities and crossed over to the heterosexual population, the American government mobilized the media to communicate, educate, and inform the American people about the AIDS; already an epidemic.
(2.) Identify key steps in planning processes for effective health communication.
Planning for Effective Health Communication
Key steps to any plan to disseminate and communicate health information must be done in a methodical manner. Planning communication...