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Collene Lawhorn Tackles Misinformation on HIV

Myths, false claims and reports of bad science can spread like wildfire on social media and by word of mouth, but scientists affiliated with AAAS programs are working strategically to combat science misinformation. In the video series “AAAS Voices: Countering Science Misinformation,” experts explain the challenges of misinformation on addressing timely topics such as climate change, technology and health, including the COVID-19 pandemic. Scientists share how they combat misinformation and offer strategies for how their fellow scientists can productively address and correct the inaccuracies they encounter.

As part of her role as a program officer in the Division of AIDS Research at the National Institute of Mental Health, Collene Lawhorn tackles misinformation related to HIV.

“There are deep roots in mistrust, so part of our work is to try to understand what some of the drivers of mistrust are,” she said.

Lawhorn shares how she counters misinformation through a new program on health communications research to advance HIV prevention, treatment and cure efforts. A neuroscientist by training and a AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow from 2013-2015, Lawhorn also shares her advice for engaging with members of the public and how to best harness data and expertise to combat misinformation.

The stakes are incredibly high in her field. Said Lawhorn, “These kinds of stigmas driven by misinformation can greatly impact the mental wellbeing of people living with HIV as well as those placed at risk for HIV and have the potential to thwart HIV prevention and treatment efforts.”

[Associated image: courtesy of ICHAD-SMART Africa and NIMH]


Neil Orman

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