Science correspondent Jon Cohen has received the American Society of Microbiology’s 2011 Public Communications Award for his package of reports on Eastern Europe’s HIV/AIDS epidemic.
The award, which includes a $2500 honorarium, recognizes outstanding journalistic achievement in increasing public awareness, knowledge, and understanding of microbiology. Cohen accepted the award during a 22 May ceremony at the Society’s annual meeting in New Orleans.
Cohen’s stories in the 9 July 2010 issue of Science, edited by Deputy News Editor Leslie Roberts, examined the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Russia and Ukraine, which together account for more than 90% of HIV infections in Eastern Europe. The wide-ranging collection of stories discussed the state of research, prevention and treatment in the region, along with social issues such as child abandonment, homelessness, and the cultural clash between law enforcement and drug treatment.
“Eastern Europe is the only region in the world that still has a growing HIV/AIDS epidemic, in part because the countries have been slow to adopt proven strategies that slow the infection’s spread in injecting drug users, the hardest-hit population,” said Cohen. “This package highlights progressive efforts to improve the situation as well as the unique political, social, and economic obstacles that have made it so difficult to apply scientific evidence from outside the region.”
Cohen’s stories are a “memorable series of reports that probes deeply into many scientific and social unknowns,” said Joe Neel, an NPR science correspondent who served as one of the competition’s three judges. “Cohen is a master of combining strong evidence-based reporting with compelling and compassionate narratives to bring a story home.”
A correspondent with Science since 1990, Cohen has reported extensively about HIV/AIDS in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean, along with covering the epidemic in more developed countries in North America, Europe, and Australia. His 2001 book, Shots in the Dark: The Wayward Search for an AIDS Vaccine (W.W. Norton), was the basis for the 2005 PBS documentary “Ending AIDS.”
“I’m deeply grateful to Science for supporting this type of on-the-ground reporting,” Cohen added, “and proud to work with such a talented team.”
Read Jon Cohen’s special section on HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe, originally published 9 July 2010 in Science.