Central GJA advocates HIV/AIDS report guidelines for journalists

Cape Coast- The Central Region branch of the Ghana Journalists’ Association (GJA) has appealed to the Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to help develop HIV and AIDS report guidelines for journalists.

This, according to the Association, would guide health reporters to produce accurate reportage using the right terminologies.

It will also help in the training of media personnel on the disease, to reduce stigma, discrimination and ultimately encourage behaviour change towards HIV and AIDS patients.

The GAC has repeatedly lamented over media mis-representation and mis-information on HIV and AIDS, a situation they said had often created public fear and was thwarting national response to the disease.

Mrs. Alice Tettey, Central Regional Chairperson of the GJA who made the appeal also called for regular training for journalists who specialised on HIV and AIDS reporting as a way of addressing the challenges they faced and to increase their understanding on the disease.

She was speaking on the Media perspective on HIV and AIDS reporting during a day’s training workshop organised by GAC for 36 health reporters in the Central region.

It is aimed at building the capacities of health reporters in the Region to enable them educate the populace accurately on HIV and AIDS and was funded by the UNDP.

According to Mrs. Tettey, the media’s role in HIV and AIDS response could not be over-emphasised and therefore they must be guided to give out accurate information on the disease for people to protect themselves against it.

She entreated journalists to adhere to the GJA ethics and code of conduct and further called on them to position themselves to report accurately new trends of HIV and AIDS.

The ultimate aim of journalists must be to help reduce the impact of the disease on people with factual stories, while at the same time be sensitive to the plight of people living with the disease and the people affected by it, she cautioned.

Mr Kyeremeh Atuahene, the Acting Director General of the GAC reiterated that HIV and AIDS had no cure, but it was manageable if patients were put on anti retroviral drugs.

He said assertions by some herbalists that they had cure for the disease had been unhelpful to HIV/AIDS control and responses and urged them to stop in the interest of the public.

He expressed worry that their assertions had seen many infected persons fall for that deception and said that gave cause for worry.

There have been a number of instances, where persons who were on the anti-retro viral drugs stopped and resorted to herbal products, but did not actually have the efficacy to control the disease and so they died, he said.

Mr William Yeboah, HIV/AIDS Technical Coordinators for the Central Region said though there was high awareness on the HIV/AIDS disease it had not translated into positive behaviours.

He therefore appealed to the media to intensify public education and help change the wrong perception on persons living with the infection.

Source: Ghana News Agency