AT A GLANCE: HIV TV documentary sparks comms activity

Why is HIV in the news at the moment?
Because everyone’s favourite polymath Stephen Fry has made a two-part documentary about the disease. Stephen Fry: HIV and Me. It has attracted much media comment.

But it has not even aired yet?
That’s right, the first part goes out next Tuesday on BBC2. But last week, the media was full of the revelation that Fry’s interview with George Michael, in which the pop star talks about his experience of HIV, was to be cut from the final edit.

So the programme has been a catalyst for PR activity?
National Aids Trust (NAT) issued a press release about the Michael story, saying that it has stimulated a welcome debate about testing on programmes such as Five’s The Wright Stuff. NAT comms officer Rachel Bruce was again able to publicise the trust’s recent report, which includes recommendations for improving testing and preventing the UK’s high number of late HIV diagnoses.

What about other HIV charities?
The Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) is not doing anything specific around Fry’s TV programme, although it was consulted by the producers. THT director of comms Genevieve Clark was on BBC Radio Five Live last weekend talking about research that suggests a quarter of young people wrongly believe that HIV is curable. Clark says that her PR team is providing statistics and case studies to journalists whose interest has been stimulated by the Fry programme.

Is THT engaged in any PR activity?
Quite a bit. This year is the 25th anniversary of the death of Terrence Higgins, and it has been promoting a programme called ‘25 things the Government can do’. THT also has a presence at the current political party conferences, approaching them in what it calls a ‘slightly smutty’ way by handing out risque stickers to highlight issues such as access to testing and sex education.

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