Saturday, August 25, 2007

PIAF swipes at Pacific Aids misinformation

PIAF is annoyed over yet another batch of emailed sensationalised misinformation doing the media rounds across the Pacific at the moment. It has sent out its own reminders about the media HIV/Aids code worked out at a regional health seminar in Fiji in 2002. I'm posting it here as a catch up call. As a preamble, the journos from 13 South Pacific nations taking part at that Suva conference stated: "We express concern about the rise of HIV/Aids in our respective countries. Moreover, we find this a difficult disease to report and ask our editorial staff for clear guidelines on the topic. We offer the following suggestions:"

  • Confidentiality surrounding news items on HIV/Aids should be maintained at all times. Therefore no names or addresses should be mentioned.
  • The use of responsible language that reflects a fair and accurate account of the current situation. Past experience has shown that sensational stories on HIV/Aids distort the situation and only increase stigma and fear among readers, listeners and viewers.
  • Terms such as 'victim' and 'sufferer' need to be dropped and replaced by 'people living with HIV/AIDS'. This gives the story a more positive tone.
  • It is unhelpful to focus only on the latest figures for HIV/Aids. Often they are inaccurate and misleading. They provide a false sense of security and can promote complacency.
  • Concentrate more on people living positively with the virus. Let them tell their story. This puts a human face on the story. This has proved far more effective in educating people.
  • It is vital to include more news items on how to prevent infection and to highlight risk behaviour rather than just risk groups.
  • Partnerships need to be developed between media representatives, NGOs and local organisations in the South Pacific in regard to HIV/Aids. Joining the email forum, AIDSTOK, is a practical way to discuss issues relevant to HIV/Aids.
  • Encourage journalists to attend in-country training courses or workshops on HIV/Aids and other related health issues.
  • Where possible, designate a journalist to work full-time on health stories and introduce a health page. Research in the Pacific has shown that when these two conditions exist, there is broader and more consistent reporting on health issues.
  • Media organizations need to acknowledge and address the increasing threat posed to young people by HIV/Aids.
  • Publish a correction for any story on HIV/Aids that is found to be seriously inaccurate and offensive.
  • All media should encourage greater partnership with the Ministry of Health (MOH) and stress the need to include a media component in their workshops, training and National Aids Councils.

    Thanks to Zoe Bake-Paterson at PIAF:

PNG Aids victims 'buried alive'

Worth a look: Whenua, fenua, enua, vanua - revolutionary anti-colonialism and anti-capitalism in the Pacific.

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