Journalists urged to write on HIV and AIDS

Mulanje, Malawi Network of AIDS Service Organization (MANASO) has urged journalists in Mulanje to report on HIV and AIDS so as to help in efforts aimed at reducing the virus’s prevalence rate.

The Organization’s Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist, Snowden Bula said Friday this during a one-day training aimed at sensitizing journalists on the recently enacted HIV and AIDS Prevention and Management Act.

He said journalists have a pivotal role to play in disseminating information on HIV and AIDS especially on the HIV and AIDS Act.

While insisting that the Act is there to protect people living with HIV and AIDS, Bula warned the Journalists to write stories with accurate information as they may be subjected to law if provisions of the Act are breached.

He urged Journalist to bring to account people involved in stigma and discrimination of people living with HIV and AIDS.

Journalists have a great role to play especially in the dissemination of HIV information. They should bring to account the people involved in stigma and discrimination and inform the public on how to not discriminate people with HIV and those trying to access HIV services, the Specialist said.

One of the facilitators, Chisomo Magwejani a Paralegal officer for Centre for Human Rights Education Advice and Assistance (CHREAA) added that reporting on HIV and AIDS in relation to the Act can benefit the general public.

In dissemination of information we rely on Journalists so when they know the actual Act and what it says they will be able to give out information based on the act and people are going to benefit.

We expect reporters to report their stories based on the act and based on updated information as far as HIV and AIDS is concerned, she said.

During the training Journalists showed dissatisfaction over fines set in the act if provisions are breached referring to them as unrealistic. They argued that most people cannot afford to pay them.

According to the HIV and AIDS Act if found guilty of offences against people living with HIV and AIDS, individuals would mostly be fined K5 million including a five-year jail term while legal entities will pay K10 million.

Answering on the matter Magwejani said, The Minister came up with that fine because of the gravity of the offence as it is a sensitive matter and many Malawians take it for granted.

Formed in 1996, MANASO is dedicated to contribute to the reduction of HIV prevalence and alleviation of suffering caused by the HIV epidemic in the country through coordination, capacity building, mobilization and allocation of resources to AIDS service organizations.

Source: MANA Online