Media Urged to Present Well-Researched Information on HIV/AIDS


United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) Country Representative for Jamaica, the Bahamas and Belize, Miriam Maluwa, is urging media practitioners to go beyond reporting on figures and begin to present well-researched and analysed information on issues relating to HIV and AIDS.
Speaking at the recent launch of the Panos Caribbean’s Media Guide titled: ‘Responsible Reporting on HIV and AIDS – A Guide for Jamaican Media Workers’, Miss Maluwa bemoaned the tendency of journalists to allow sensationalism to cloud the underpinning issues that affect people living with HIV and AIDS.
“The media need to realise that its reporting should not only be about the surface figures. Start digging deeper into some of the determinants of the epidemic and see how we can start having meaningful conversations in communities about these issues; conversations that should lead to better understanding, better change, and better mobilisation of the entire community in order to stem the tide of the epidemic,” she appealed.
Pointing to the crucial role that the media must play in disseminating accurate, sensitive information on AIDS and AIDS-related illnesses, the UNAIDS Country Representative implored those gathered to convey information that helps to clarify issues instead of fostering common myths and misunderstandings about the disease as it relates to prevention, modes of transmission and the underlying determinants of the epidemic.
“The media fraternity must be ever cognizant that important efforts to curb the epidemic are also very deep-seated and grounded in fundamental issues that society is grappling with such as gender inequality, homophobia, stigma and discrimination, marginalisation, exclusion,” she stated further.
The publication provides a background of the HIV epidemic in Jamaica, and deals with effective and sensitive reporting on HIV and AIDS, as well as research and interview techniques. It also provides information on ethical issues relating to HIV reporting.
Contributors include Dr. Robert Carr and Ms. Corinne Barnes of the Caribbean Institute of Media and Communications (CARIMAC); Broadcaster and Lecturer, Fae Ellington; Programme Manager of the Policy and Advocacy Component at the National HIV/STI Programme in Jamaica’s Ministry of Health, Faith Hamer; and former Regional Director for Panos Caribbean, Patricia Watson.
Since 1989, Panos has been working in the Caribbean, through close alliance with the media, to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS issues. It has provided extensive training for journalists and is currently investigating the issues of participation, ownership and accountability in the HIV and AIDS response.

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