The media has been urged to scale up information aimed at helping in preventing further spread of HIV in the country.The Kabarole Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, Simon Bimbona, made the appeal while officiating at a half-day media workshop at Kalya Courts in Fort Portal Municipality
By John B. Thawite
The media has been urged to scale up information aimed at helping in preventing further spread of HIV in the country.
The Kabarole Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, Simon Bimbona, made the appeal while officiating at a half-day media workshop at Kalya Courts in Fort Portal Municipality Monday.
The meeting was convened by the Uganda AIDS Commission (UAC) with financing from Deloitte to enhance the participation of the media fraternity in the national HIV/AIDS response.
Describing the media as "a mouth-piece for government programmes" he said the media has very high capacity to disseminate HIV prevention messages.
"You are the mouth-piece for all of us and for whatever we do. If do not give you the right information and you do not disseminate it, then we are doing nothing," he said.
He also referred to the media as "the commanders on the front of fighting HIV" given how powerful information from the journalists influences behavior and shapes public opinion.
He disclosed that much as the country's HIV prevalence is 7.3% in the general population, it was worse in Kabarole district.
"For us it is 13%, especially among the young people who make up the biggest proportion of commercial workers in the Municipality.
He attributed the increasing trend of HIV in the district to drug abuse, alcoholism and commercial sex and moral decadence among adolescents.
"Alcohol is one of the factors behind the increasing HIV because it drives out the life and survival instinct from those who get drunk.
But he cautioned the media against publishing un-researched information on HIV and AIDS.
According to the report presented at the meeting by the head of HIV Prevention at the UAC, Dir. Peter Mudiope, about 1.6 million people in Uganda are infected with HIV with some 380 news infections daily.
"Over 137,000 people get infected with HIV in Uganda annually, meaning that the number of orphans stands at 180,000, while about 175 people.
Dir. Mudiope urged them to utilise the recently revitalized national Information and Documentation Centre (NADIC), designed and housed at the Uganda AIDS Commission.
According to the UAC Director-General, Christine Andoa, NADIC is a one-stop Centre of information on HIV and AIDS.
The journalists in the meeting said the fight against HIV was being partly frustrated by evangelical confessions that HIV and AIDS can be cured through prayer.
They also urged government to crack down on the mushrooming herbalists that administer concoctions they disguise as remedies to the scourge.
"Some of the health workers are also to blame for the scourge because they conceal the HIV status of some of their clients who compromise them," over 50 scribes claimed.
In their communiqué, the participants pledged to, among others, mainstream HIV prevention messages in their programming including publishing regular stories on air and in the print media.
They also called for more collaboration with district local government in sharing information.
It was also resolved that a Google platform be formed with assistance from the USAID-supported Communication for healthy Communities (CHC) to share information.
The meeting included District Information Officers and HIV Focal persons from the sub-region.
During the meeting, the scribes observed a moment's silence for fallen colleague, Rosemary Nankabirwa, the pioneer news anchor at NTV, who succumbed to cancer at the weekend.
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