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Detecting Media Bias and Propaganda - the Epidemic of Hiv in Saint Petersburg

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Detecting Media Bias and Propaganda
The Epidemic of HIV in Saint Petersburg

Danny H. Do



The Epidemic of HIV in Saint Petersburg


In this report, it has been discussed about the news which was seen on TV and other media sources in past few days related to the Illness that is known is HIV, it was noted that most bloggers and news channels were reporting that HIV is at large in a city of Russia which is known as Saint Petersburg. The objective of this report shows that how well this news was portrayed by the media and what impact did it make on the people around the world regarding the image of Russia and what steps were taken by the Russian government regarding this news.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus, which is mainly known as HIV, is an infectious disease. It gradually attacks the immune system which is the natural defense of our body against the diseases. There are two main types of HIV with a number of subtypes and groups where HIV-1 and HIV-2 are its main types. HIV should not be taken lightly because if left untreated, it can take around 10-15 years for AIDS to develop.

Saint Petersburg is the second largest city in Russia (after Moscow) with the population of approximately 6 million and also the most infected city with HIV in whole Russia. In an article published by CDC National Prevention Information Network (2004) about the epidemic of HIV, there are 260,000 registered HIV-positive cases in Russian out of which 26,000 people, one out of ten, live in St. Petersburg as stated by Tatyana Smolskaya, the director of Northwest Region Aids Center. CDC National Prevention Information Network (2004) also mentioned in their article that the cause of this epidemic in St. Petersburg was due to high use of injected drugs.

Vasquez et al. (2013) stated in their article that over 40,000 individuals are living in St. Petersburg who are HIV-positive in which 80.3% of men and 48.7% women were injected drug users in the past. This leads us to conclude that injected drugs are the main cause of HIV epidemic in St. Petersburg. In a research carried out by Pasteur Scientific Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology from 1999 to 2010, researchers found that the percentage of people who were IDUs (injected drug users) with HIV was 12.0% in 1999 which rose to a total of 61.4% in 2010. On January 1st 2012 in St. Petersburg, 800 people per 100,000 were HIV-positive which shows that 0.8% of the city’s population was infected with this virus.

A report carried out by Smith (2014) states that Russia has the fastest growing HIV epidemic in the world with approximately 1.2 million HIV-infected citizens and the policies of the country are provoking the HIV epidemic instead of curbing them. She also states that approximately 2.3% of Russia’s population is IDU which remains the main cause of HIV epidemic in Russia. As stated by Gilderman (2013), “The World Bank estimates that in 2020, Russia will lose 20,000 people per month to AIDS” (p. 1) This is something which Russian government is worried about as they are increasing their efforts in spreading the knowledge about HIV. Osborn (2016) writes in his article that the head of federal AIDS center, Vadim Pokrovsky is worried about the epidemic of HIV and plans to take desperate measures in order to prevent it from spreading further.

After researching about this news and reading different articles on the internet some from websites which are owned by the most popular TV channels, it was noted that this news was being exaggerated as the above-mentioned data are from different sources and most of it was exaggerated to make the news more biased for the people. It’s true that the HIV is present there in Saint Petersburg but how the media is portraying it that soon all of the Russia is going to have HIV and the government won’t be able to do anything about it Etc. is just showing that a specific propaganda is being promoted to bring bad name to the government of Russia and the Russian people that most of them are infected with HIV which is caused by the usage of drugs. This news also portrays that the drug use in Russia is also out of control but no further evidence has been given of it and only the HIV part has been propagated. Media and News channel sometimes propagate some news according to their own will, in which they are befitting somehow, whether from the news advertisement or from the government. Not all the things that are shown on the News channels are true and exactly like what they have portrayed.


Reporters and other people who have published this news on their blogs, websites, news channels, have used Media Bias in it to make this story more interesting and something which is going to get more and more clicks and views, as the only thing that is needed when a publisher posts a story online are views or visits on their page. This news has been biased by selection of the sources, by placement and by spin, as the reporters have selected to choose the sources from different works which have been done previously on HIV outbreak in Russia to show that how serious this news is, they also have biased this story by placement, as all the news about Russia catches a lot of attention and gets a lot of views from the people because of the image that has been made of Russia in people’s eyes just by promoting news like this. It also has been biased by spin because the outbreak of HIV can be regarded as a special event which needs the special attention of the officials in Russia and it has been portrayed like that the Russian government is doing nothing to contain this outbreak in their country or maybe they are helpless against it.



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