ZIMBABWE has progressed in reducing its HIV and AIDS burden at the back of increased reportage of HIV and AIDS issues which has greatly changed perceptions around the disease and reduced stigma and discrimination towards people living with HIV.
By Michael Gwarisa in Chinhoyi
Addressing Editors and Station managers from different media organization in Chinhoyi, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Deputy Minister, Honorable Kindness Paradza said mentioning Zimbabwe’s HIV success without including the media would be a great injustice.
Far from the belief in some quarters that HIV and AIDS stories are now tired and have probably been replaced by COVID-19, they remain relevant and worthy of our serious attention. Indeed, HIV and AIDS have been part of our lives for nearly 30 years and have most probably received some of the most widespread coverage leading to the feeling that the stories may have lost their appeal.
“The politics of the day have also been very intriguing, creating competition for front page coverage with HIV and other related stories. I must therefore emphasise the fact that the HIV and AIDS story remains an issue of public interest, which has an undying appeal as a story of both human suffering and hope. Its relationship with COVID-19 and non- communicable diseases makes it even more appealing and worth pursuing,” said Honorable Paradza.
He added that there was need by the media personnel to balance interests and ensure that all subjects that concern the livelihood of people receive coverage.
“Information is very strategic in decision making both at individual and national levels. With correct and balanced information, one is able to take proper decisions and actions to prevent HIV infection and manage it where infection has taken place.
“At the policy level, we always require correct information about HIV to debate motions in parliament. In covering HIV, it is also important therefore for editors to understand that different audiences and levels require suitable and customized information specific to their needs and levels.”
Meanwhile, National AIDS Council (NAC) Chief Executive Officer, Dr Bernard Madzima applauded the emergence of new media players and platforms and the increased coverage of HIV and AIDS issues across the media industry.
“This workshop is part of our broad strategy to improve coverage of the HIV and AIDS story by the media. Most of you will recall that in addition to this and other workshops for editors and station managers, NAC also regularly meets journalists and conducts media tours to various provinces. The annual NAC media awards that we run are also an essential part of the strategies we have in place to improve coverage of HIV and COVID-19.
“Ladies and gentlemen, on account of our regular engagements with you as editors and station managers as well as your journalists, we have already seen an improvement in both the number and depth of the articles on HIV and AIDS. We are very glad to note that outlets for information dissemination are broadening as animated by community radio stations and online channels, which naturally brings ubiquity to HIV and COVID-19 communication,” said Dr Madzima.