Sensationalized or Not?

For our third graded blog assignment we were asked to analyze a story from the health or science section of a mainstream newspaper. I chose to examine a health article called (Speaking Out for a Group Once Unheard of: Aging with AIDS) from the The New York Times. In this article the author Karen Burrow talks about the dramatic changes HIV has made over the decades since it was discovered in the early 1980’s.

            HIV/AIDS for a long time meant not only were the infected plagued with an inevitable death but also those in the midst of currently living with the disease were deemed “dirty” to society. In recent decades scientists and doctors have found new ways to delay the effects of the virus and help those who are infected from living longer lives. This article follows the life of Myron Gold a 67-year-old man who has been living with the HIV since 1993.

            At the time Mr. Gold’s was infected, HIV was still a fairly new disease and due to the lack of knowledge many who were infected were considered outcasts and shunned. He recalls the first moment when he was diagnosed and the panic that spread across every person in the ER’s face. “It was as if everyone suddenly began running for his or her lives,” he says. Doctors told him he had no more than 6 months to live and despite their initial diagnoses Myron Gold is alive and fairly well 15 years later.  

            Working now as a HIV/AIDS activist, he spends the majority of his time talking to audiences that are 50 years and older about the risks of unprotected sex and drug use. Many don’t understand why he speaks to such an older crowd but in fact, 29% of those infected with HIV are over the age of 50 and in 2005 alone, 15% of new patients were also over the age of 50. Mr. Gold’s has made it his duty to inform this demographic and says to come find him in the next 10 years because he will still be advocating the prevention of HIV/AIDS.

            I did not find the reporting of this article to in any way be sensationalized. I think the information provided seemed accurate and appropriately reported to the public. I personally think the HIV/AIDS topic is too sensitive and serious to be sensationalized in a mainstream newspaper. I think that people just hearing about HIV/AIDS and the advances in medicine scientists are making are enough to convince them to buy the newspaper. I don’t believe reporters need to dramatize something so serious for profit and I don’t think they did in this case.

            Questions I have had regarding the HIV/AIDS virus were for the most part answered in this article. For a long time I assumed that once you were infected you only had a small amount of time to live. I didn’t realize all the advancements in medicine that have been made over the past few decades. It also showed me the advancements we have made as a society towards dealing and treating people who have been plagued by this virus. No longer do people wince when they hear about their friends or family members being infected, instead they are sympathetic and supportive. Have we come a long way from 1993 when Myron Gold was looked down upon for being infected? This article has answered this question for me, yes we have. 


About Ayan Jama

I am a University of Oregon graduate with a BA in Journalism with a focus in Magazine and Public Relations. I enjoy foreign movies, white chocolate, shoes, and friends & family.
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