Media Can Play Key Role in Addressing HIV/AIDS in Africa and Asia, says IFJ

The IFJ has called on media organisations to develop strategies that strengthen the role of media in providing information on all aspects of HIV and AIDS, and to institute wide ranging, regular and sustained training for journalists and editors on HIV and AIDS reporting.

Recommendations on reporting HIV/Aids were adopted at a two-day Africa-Asia cross regional meeting on reporting HIV/AIDS, “A Story a Day: The Media and Reporting HIV/AIDS”, which was held from July 25-26 in Phnom Penh.

The meeting brought together journalists and experts from Africa and Asia to share their experiences and discuss strategies for improving reporting HIV/AIDS.

Representatives from IFJ affiliated journalists’ unions, senior journalists, media groups and HIV/AIDS non-government organisations, including UNAIDS, Internews, PANOS, FAMEDEV, Journalists Against AIDS, the ILO and the Thompson Foundation, and spanning countries including Cambodia, India, the Philippines, Senegal, Nigeria, Zambia, Indonesia, Thailand and Australia, adopted recommendations acknowledging the vital role the media plays in reporting on HIV and AIDS.

“Improved media reporting of HIV/AIDS is fundamental to raising awareness and in mobilising public opinion to prevent the transmission of HIV,” IFJ president Christopher Warren said.

“Journalists are playing a vital role in educating the public on HIV/AIDS - it is imperative this work continues and is expanded on,” Warren said.

The recommendations also highlighted the need for country specific codes of conducts and reporting guidelines on HIV/AIDS encouraged the media to avoid or challenge the myths and challenge the stereotypes that surround people living with HIV and AIDS.

Additionally, the group agreed to hold a follow-up regional conference to review progress in the implementation of this programme of work at a national and regional level within three years.

“If media organisations and journalists around the world make an effort to take these joint recommendations on board, we will surely see an improvement in the quality and quantity of news reports on HIV/AIDS, which will lead to a greater understanding of these complex issues,” Warren said.

“Just as importantly, journalists as workers living with HIV and AIDS need protection in the workplace from stigma and discrimination,” he said.

The cross regional meeting, which focused on six target countries (Cambodia, India, Nigeria, the Philippines, South Africa and Zambia), was part of a two-year project (2005-6) aimed at improving reporting of HIV/AIDS in Africa and Asia, supported by the Swedish trade union movement, the LO-TCO.

The IFJ also released its research report in HIV/AIDS media reporting in Asia and Africa, which found that HIV/AIDS reportage in affected regions is improving but that there is still significant work to be done.

The larger project supported by the LO-TCO involves: research on HIV/AIDS in the target countries; production of a media guide in local languages (which was launched at the meeting); adaptation of a training module on HIV/AIDS to the target countries; the training of trainers for local journalists to be skilled up to deliver the module to their peers; and a series of trainings on reporting on HIV/AIDS in each of the target countries.

The full list of recommendations can be found on the IFJ Asia-Pacific website -

For further information contact Christopher Warren on +61 2 93330999

The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 120 countries

The IFJ HIV/AIDS project is generously supported by LO-TCO