The Anti-AIDS Media Network (AAMIN) has successfully completed its first stakeholders’ consultative meeting for the revision of Liberia’s First HIV and AIDS Media Guide. The meeting organized by the network with support from the America Jewish World Service (AJWS) was held on Friday, August 23, 2019 at the Lutheran Church in Liberia Compound between 12th and 13th streets in Monrovia.
About 25 media stakeholders and 10 national and international organizations including the Press Union of Liberia (PUL), Female Journalists Association of Liberia (FeJAL), Liberia Legislative Reporters Association (LEGISPOOL), Executive Mansion Reporters Association, and Judiciary Reporters Association. Others included: National AIDS Commission (NAC), National AIDS and STIs Control Program (NACP), Ministry of Justice (MOJ), Lutheran Church in Liberia HIV and AIDS Program, Liberia Network of Persons Living with HIV (LIBNEP+), Stop AIDS in Liberia (SAIL), Global Initiative For Tranquility (GIFT), Population Services International Liberia (PSI) LINKAGES Liberia and the United Nations Joint Program on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS).
The revision of the HIV and AIDS Guide for Journalists and media practitioners is in response to helping government and partners meet global targets toward ending AIDS.
The Guide was first developed and launched in 2015. The HIV media guide is intended to serve as a quick reference document for journalists reporting on HIV and AIDS and other health related issues to reduce stigma and discrimination against persons living with HIV and their families.
Mr. Mark Newa, acting head of Secretariat of AAMIN said the review meeting is undertaken to understand progress, constraints and future priorities toward ending AIDS in Liberia. “As we come together today, let us discuss with open minds. Speak of the issues that matter most to the people at the community level that journalists need to report on. This will not only help the government of Liberia and Liberians, but entire world,” Mr. Newa noted provided the overview of the review consultative stakeholders’ meeting.
In a special remarks, UNAIDS Country Director (UCD),Dr. Miriam Chipimo reaffirmed UNAIDS support to working with the Anti-AIDS Media Network as the global agenda for UNAIDSis to reach the three 90s and Liberia is still far.
For Liberia to get there, according to her, there is a need for the test and treat approach toward ending AIDS be supported by all, thus keeping in mind that no one is left behind.
Dr. Chipimo thanked the network for organizing the meeting with focus on HIV and AIDS, and called on journalists to remain key players in the national HIV response.
“In today’s world, media becomes as essential as our daily needs. Media of today is playing an outstanding role in creating and shaping of public opinion and strengthening of society. Please continue to utilize such power in the way that we can together end AIDS,” Dr. Chipimo said.
Representing the National AIDS Commission, Mr. Mulbah Zubah frown on media and religious institutions, especially the state broadcaster,for promoting erroneous information that AIDS has got a cure in the country. We know scientifically that we do not have any information.
He also commented that after the passage of the Domestic Right Law recently, the commission instructed one of its legal officers to ensure that the omitted HIV laws are replaced in the instrument.
Mr. Mulbah then used the occasion to call on journalists and members of the network to continue to project the level of progress being made toward ending AIDS in the country.
Mr. James Davis, who proxy for Charles Coffey, president of the Press Union of Liberia said the union will always continue to partner with the Anti-AIDS Media Network to achieve its optimal goal.
Mr. Davis lauded the American Jewish World Service for the support to AAMIN.
“We are happy to partner with this group and we are hoping that after the review process journalists will be equipped more in exercising the power of the pen,” Mr. Davis added.
For his part, Mr. Stephen McGill, Executive Director of Stop AIDS in Liberia thanked journalists in the country for keeping HIV issues high and the agenda but said there are more journalists that require training to report on health issues in the country.
He used the occasion to call on journalists to improve their reportage on key populations, young girls and women and other minority groups. He said bias reporting; hate mongering reporting; and sentimental reporting are not good journalism. He asked that journalists should avoid stigmatization and discriminationwhen reporting on HIV and other health issues.
Meanwhile, the secretariat of AAMIN has constituted a technical committee, headed by Stop AIDS in Liberia, other members of the committee are the Lutheran Church in Liberia HIV program, LibNep+, AIDS/ST Control Program, PSI, PUL, AAMIN and LIPRIDE, This consultative meeting is among five during the media guide review process.