The Media’s crucial role in fighting HIV/AIDS stigma and discrimination

The Media’s crucial role in fighting HIV/AIDS stigma and discrimination

Over half of citizens in some countries express prejudice against people with HIV, the media has a key role to play in fighting the HIV stigma and discrimination.

The United Nations reports that over 50 percent of men and women experience discrimination against HIV-positive individuals due to misinformation and misunderstandings about the virus.

The media has significantly influenced public perception of the AIDS epidemic by sharing stories and providing a human perspective on the disease.Since the emergence of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Rwanda, research has shown that media coverage has reduced the stigma of the condition and cleared up some misinformation.

Rwandans get their HIV and AIDS information from the media. That’s why the way television shows, films, and the news portray people living with HIV is important.

Over recent decades, progress has been made in overcoming the stigma surrounding the Virus and disease, due in part to these films and television shows.

However, many places around the world still believe older stigmas about the HIV and AIDS.Having sufficient resources available to provide information to both the public and to those affected by the conditions can help.

In 3-day workshop organized by RRP+ in collaboration with Rwanda Media Network against HIV and AIDS “ABASIRWA” involving Journalists from different media organisations to discuss integrating HIV response messages into their communications skills.

Leading Rwandan journalists are hoping to help improve reporting on HIV/AIDS, having taken part in a workshop focusing on curtailing popular misperceptions.“

We need to publish HIV/AIDS articles on a regular basis in order to familiarise people with the issue,” said Elisee Muhizi, Vice Chair of ABASIRWA and a Journalist from UMUSEKE.

Special attention was given to the use of appropriate language. “We learnt it was necessary to use words that imply inclusiveness,” Muhizi explained, “and to avoid promoting discrimination and stigma”.

Diane Nkusi, Journalist and owner of Umuringa News Agency said that media organisations is an important tool for reaching people’s living with HIV because it allows both healthcare providers and activists to reach young people where they are, which is online and on social media.

“Media platforms allows for the opportunity for personalized outreach, and for that outreach and information gathering to be private and confidential.” She said.

Attendees also concentrated on ethical aspects of reporting, such as the importance of privacy and confidentiality.

The freshly-qualified media trainer added that social attitudes and popular misperceptions about HIV/AIDS remained the primary obstacles to dialogue on the issue.

RPP+ Youth ambassador shares testimony of resilience intended to inspire journalists to support advocacy efforts by youth ambassadors and understanding towards those infected and affected by the virus.

Their said that young Rwandans living with HIV are using the most powerful human communication tool of their time; social media.

Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok, have become dynamic spaces where these youth, commanding audiences numbering hundreds of thousands, share their life journey and advocate for change.

HIV prevalence among Rwanda’s general population has been stable at 3% for the last decade. It is higher among women (3.6%) than men (2.2%); more prevalent in urban (4.8%) compared to rural areas (2.5%).

The Parliament social affairs committee took the responsibility of advocating and using legal structures to end HIV stigma, and change the narrative on HIV as any other sickness but also called for more research on underlying factors.

About RRP+

Rwanda Network of People Living with HIV (RRP+) is a network that represents over 100,000 people infected and affected by HIV (PLHIV) and has a strong decentralized structure in place.

RRP+ is therefore best positioned to know the challenges PLHIV have to face in their daily life.

It’s their duty to bring their worries up to the level of political decision making to assure they are taken into account by the Ministry of Health (MOH) and other partners, and to advocate for measures to be put in place to improve the quality of life of PLHIV.

As stigma and discrimination remain among the biggest problems PLHIV are struggling with, RRP+ joined the world on the 1st of March to commemorate the international Zero Discrimination Day.

Mrs Blandine Sebujangwe from RRP+
Mrs Blandine Sebujangwe from RRP+

Elisee Muhizi, Vice president of ABASIRWA and Journalist from UMUSEKEInnocent Bahati the Executive Secretary of ABASIRWA

THE RWANDASUN

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Johnson NDEKEZI

Johnson NDEKEZI is a Journalist covering all topics in the Entertainment World as well as Political and current Affairs.

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