Monrovia A Liberian-based media network, Anti-AIDS Media Network (AAMIN) has engaged media institutions to keep HIV and Human Rights issues high on the news agenda through the distributing the nation’s first HIV Guide for journalists and media practitioners.
The HIV media guide which serves as a reference document to improve professional reporting skill of journalists, void of stigmatization and discrimination was developed by the Anti-AIDS Media Network in collaboration with the Liberian government and partners and launched in 2015.
The 2013 Liberia Demography Health Survey (LDHS) has revealed that HIV-related stigma and discrimination refers to prejudice, negative attitudes and abuse directed at people living with HIV and AIDS.
The AAMN with support from the America Jewish World Service (AJWS), embarked on a day-long exercise distributing HIV and AIDS Guide to media institutions, placing the guide in the newsrooms enable journalists have access for quick reference while reporting on HIV issues.
Solomon Watkins, Program Officer of the Anti-AIDS Media Network said copies of the Guide were previously distributed among individual journalists who were asked to take them to their newsrooms aid their reporting, but assessment shows that they are not in those newsrooms.
Speaking over the weekend, Journalist Watkins said instead of these reporters placing the Media Guide in the newsrooms for quick reference, the reporters took the guide to their homes.
Watkins said the guide among other things considers HIV epidemic and response in the country, the role of the media in the national response and strategies for effective media engagement.
Besides the HIV Guide Watkins said the Anti-AIDS Media Network distributed several working materials, including the National Strategic Plan (2015-2020), National AIDS Commission’s Calendar and Brochures of AAMIN.
Also Speaking, the Media monitoring Officer of the Network, Mark Newa said a proposed six month media monitoring exercise is soon to be implemented to assess the work of journalists in the country.
Mr. Newa said the best performing media institution will be awarded during the end of the six month period.
In separate statements, media executives from some these media institutions visited lauded AAMIN for taking the lead in media response to AIDS.
Mr. Joseph T. Koon, Editor-In-Chief of the Liberia Broadcasting System (LBS) said the State Broadcaster is extremely grateful to the Anti-AIDS Media Network for reminding journalists and media practitioners of reporting issues on health and human rights, particularly HIV and AIDS in the country.
He recommended refresher workshop for journalists and regular monitoring of report of journalists on HIV and Human rights issues to help AAMIN assess the impact of the guide.
“This should not be the end, I wish you follow up to ensure that the guide is fully implemented,” Mr. Koon said.
Korva Beyan, Director of Radio at Truth FM intoned that the guide will meaningfully enhance the work of journalists at the radio station and other media practitioners elsewhere.
“We will use the guide in our coverage to report issues affecting people living with the HIV virus. Broadcast in the past was done ignorantly and was discriminatory, but with the help of the Guide I strongly believe we will make the difference,” Mr. Beyan said.
On behalf of Daily Observer Newspaper, Mr. Bai Best thanked the media network for the initiative and promised to work with reporters and media practitioners on the importance of the guide.
Mr. Bai suggested that the electronic copy of the guide be made available to media institutions to enhance reporting on issues affecting people living with the virus.
Mr. Molley Passawe, Managing Editor of Capitol Times newspaper, said AAMIN should count on his institution as a valuable partner in the dissemination of issues affecting people living with HIV and key populations
He assured AAMN of using the media empire to propagate messages in relations to HIV and Human Rights void of stigma and discrimination.
The Managing Editor for Administration of the Inprofile Daily newspaper, Lewis G. Glay praised the network for calling on the institution to join effort to ending AIDS by 2030. He pointed out that Liberians are good at developing policies that cannot easily be implemented, but challenged AAMIN to remain courageous to ensure that the Guide is implemented to the fullest.
Mr. Jutonu Kollie Director of News at PRIME FM, pledged the station’s support to working with AAMIN for increase HIV and Human Rights related matters reporting.
He said “our doors remain opened to properly disseminate information as far as ethical and responsible HIV and AIDS reporting are concern.”
Some of the media institutions visited with the HIV Guide were Real TV, Truth FM, ELBC, LNTV, Daily Observer newspaper, Capitol FM, Capitol Times, Capitol Magazine, In profile Daily, New Dawn newspaper and Prime FM.
The HIV Media Guide aims to complement various national and global targets in responding to the HIV Testing, counseling, prevention, care and support for people infected affected by HIV and AIDS.
One of these targets is “90 90 90” Targets, which speak to giving HIV and AIDS the positive push required.
The LDHS indicated that this has resulted into terminally ill persons to remain at home while approach to engage those lost to follow-up and advocate for their welfares especially women and children continue to remain a major challenge to the national response.
According to the survey HIV prevalence in the general population is 2.1 percent, indicative of a slight increase from the 1.5 percent in 2007.