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October 13, 1989

The Reporting of AIDS

JAMA. 1989;262(14):1949-1950. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03430140063015

To the Editor.—  The acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) epidemic has generated not only an increasing flow of scientific articles, but of news stories as well. The public is largely dependent on the latter for information. How accurately do the news media report AIDS research findings, and how do news writers' own beliefs compare with those of the scientific community?

Study.—  To address these questions, using methodology developed in an earlier study,1 we mailed brief confidential questionnaires to 103 medical researchers and 116 general scientists in the United States, randomly selected from American Men and Women of Science. The sample thus represented a range of respondents, from those directly involved with AIDS research to those trained in other scientific disciplines. The same questionnaire was also sent to 96 journalists, selected from leading US newspapers, news magazines, and television networks, who had reported on AIDS within the last year. Response rates