Engaging media in fight against HIV/AIDS

Reporters and journalists from the media community discussed how media can better cover the issues on HIV/AIDs and advocate on the disease during the two-day conference on ‘Media Engagement on HIV and Key Populations’ that was organized by LHAK-SAM in Punakha this week.

Although there is news in the media about the issue, not enough is being done, agreed many reporters who attended the workshop.

During the presentation, OxMedia, a consultancy, shared some of the key findings of media coverage on HIV/AIDS.

The lack of specialization, lack of information, and low coverage and medium prominence of HIV/AIDS stories in the media were blamed for the low coverage in the mainstream media.

One of the reporters from a private media and a participant agreed that the media nowadays has forgotten the issue and HIV has become a soft news compared to the past.

“Readers don’t care about the issue anymore, unlike in the past,” she added.

Tshering Dorji, a consultant and a former senior journalist of Kuensel, said HIV is an important issue that deserves to be covered in the mainstream media.

He also shared that the media does not highlight the issue of HIV/AIDS because there is not enough specialization in the newsrooms and reporters are not aware of the issue.

“When there is a lack of information, the media does not report on the issue. Once a year, the media highlights the issue. Humanize the story to advocate and evoke emotions in the readers,” he added.

Earlier, the media’s portrayal of HIV/AIDS was based on events and handouts provided by the government. Today, however, with better media coverage, reporters have been able to advocate on the disease.

It was also discussed that media coverage has reduced the stigma of the disease and cleared up misinformation, with the media playing a pivotal role in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The participants agreed that education is the vaccine against HIV/AIDS.

The two-day event concluded on Thursday with discussion on why media must address the issue of HIV/AIDS. The key findings and gaps from the research were also discussed. Apart from the identification of key groups, explanation of HIV/AIDS, treatment, care and support were also presented to the media.

The event ended with what media can do to bring about the desired change.

Chencho Dema from Punakha