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Message to Reduce HIV/AIDS Stigmatisation

2008-06-09 20:39:55
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Media practitioners have been urged, to adopt "Behaviour change communication", (BCC), as a tool to encourage and sustain positive attitudes towards People Living with HIV/AIDS, (PLWHA).

BCC is a communication process for developing messages and approaches, using a mix of communication channels for individuals and communities to reduce their level of risk or change their behaviours by understanding the basic facts about HIV/AIDS to enable them access and modify their attitudes towards the disease.

Mr Alhassan Imoro, Media Director of Rural Media Network, a communication NGO in the Northern Region advocated for this method of journalist in addressing the HIV/AIDS disease in the country at a media encounter on Friday.

The forum was organised by the Social Change Advisory Network (SCAN) and Mabiligu, two local NGOs engaged in HIV/AIDS campaign.

Mr Imoro urged journalist to introduce "Zero tolerance for stigma and discrimination by avoiding the use of languages that promote stigma and discrimination, while promoting positive images, including family and community acceptance of PLWHA and the importance of caring for them".

He said although the media had played a central role in creating awareness since the beginning of the epidemic in 1996, media practitioners had not done enough to observe the sensitivity needed when dealing with a disease that creates stigma, denial, blame and feelings of guilt.

"PLWHAs should not be stigmatised or discriminated against. Rather, they deserve our compassion, care and support. For those living with HIV, the effects of stigma and discrimination are almost as deadly as the virus itself", he said.

Mr Imoro said the media could contribute in educating more than 95 per cent of the adult population, aged between 15 to 45, who do not have the HIV to take good care of their health and avoid contracting the virus, while at the same time learning to live with friends, relatives and neighbours, who are positive.


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