The National Aids Commission (NAC) in partnership with the Anti-AIDS Media Network on September 11 commenced a three-day capacity-building training for journalists, educating them about HIV/AIDS reporting without mentioning the victim’s name in order to avoid stigmatization and discrimination.
The training brought together over 30 journalists from various media institutions, including reporters from the various radio and television stations as well as those from the print media.
Press Union President (PUL) Charles B. Coffey underscored the importance for media practitioners to constantly create awareness on HIV/AIDs as a way of educating people living with HIV/AIDs to take their treatment and avoid spreading the virus.
Mr. Coffey said if nothing is done to stop the spread of HIV, the younger generation will be grossly affected, “therefore, it is time that every citizen gets tested early to know their status and avoid the unknown spread of the virus.”
One of the facilitators, Necus M. Andrew, said media intervention was necessary to mitigate health and social complications surrounding HIV/AIDS by increasing knowledge, improving risk perception, changing social behaviors, and questioning potentially harmful societal norms.
Andrew stressed the need for media practitioners to increase the awareness campaign by bringing people together as part of multi-level efforts to mutually reinforce the messages through interpersonal, community and national channels.
The training seeks to improve the understanding of journalists on effective and correct reporting on HIV/AIDS-related issues through spot messages or anti-AIDS jingles.
The training is being hosted to engender collaboration between the National AIDS Commission and other stakeholders for effective HIV-prevention messages throughout the media.
Ben Cooper, NAC Director for Program and Police Coordinator, said the media have a pivotal role in the fight against HIV/AIDS, adding: “Education is the vaccine against the spread of HIV/AIDS.”
Mr. Cooper said many media organizations are rising to the challenge by promoting awareness of HIV/AIDS and educating listeners, readers and viewers about the facts of the epidemic and how to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS.