Media asked to join fight against HIV

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 16, No. 15            April 13, 2006

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Media and members of the NAC congregated to discuss the ways the media in Belize could help in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Dr. Rovin Deodat, communication consultant for the CARICOM/PANCAP Project stressed the importance of the media to Combat HIV/AIDS.

On Tuesday, April 11th, 2005, the National AIDS Commission (NAC) held a one-day media workshop in Belize City. This workshop was aimed at enlightening the various media houses across the country on how they can assist and better help NAC in the dissemination of information. Present for the forum were radio, television and newspaper representatives from Belize City, San Ignacio, Toledo, San Pedro and Orange Walk.

   Ambassador and advocate for NAC Dolores Balderamos Garcia opened the workshop by welcoming the media houses present stating, “We don’t get tired of being advocates. We are fully aware of what needs to be accomplished and we will gladly go all the way, with your help of course.”

   Facilitator for the workshop was Dr. Rovin Deodat, communication consultant for the CARICOM/PANCAP Project. He stressed the importance of identifying training programs and resources required for media and communication professionals to effectively fulfill each role. The workshop also assisted to develop recommendations on the types of stories and coverage that can be successfully undertaken on HIV/AIDS activities by the media (print and electronic) within the next six to twelve months.

   The overall goals of NAC are prevention, mitigation and harmonization. (1) Prevention: the reduction of the incidence of HIV infection and stigma and discrimination through increased knowledge and improved attitudes, practices and behavior. (2) Mitigation: The integration and efficient delivery of services to persons infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. (3) Harmonization: Improved coordination and mobilization of resources through sustained networking and collaboration.

   One of the biggest topics handled was stigma and discrimination. Dr. Deodat explained that stigma has ancient roots, and has been described as a quality that ‘significantly discredits’ an individual in the eyes of others. It also has important consequences for the way in which individuals come to see themselves. Stigma has been characterized as the attitude while discrimination is the behavior itself. It was suggested by Dr. Deodat that countries should be able to identify stigma and discrimination in their communities and to develop a proper approach in addressing it.

   Strategies were shared and tips for developing mass media campaigns was made clear. This seminar was part of a NAC’s aim to involve the media in their projects; it certainly will not be the last one. All media houses were encouraged to assist in any form that they may be able to.
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