Media group dialogues with media managers on ending AIDS, stigma and discrimination in Liberia

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The Anti-AIDS Media Network (AAMIN) with support from the American Jewish World Service (AJWS) has concluded a day dialogue with about ten managers and editors of both print and electronic media houses in Liberia on ending AIDS, stigma and discrimination in the West African State.

The roundtable direct engagement dialogue with editors was held Thursday, July 27, 2017, in the United Nations Joint Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) conference room, upper Mamba point, in Monrovia.

Currently, Liberia has its generalized HIV prevalence at 2.1%. The main mode of HIV transmission is through sexual intercourse.

This is because there are differences in human sexuality. Human sexuality is the quality of being sexual, or the way people experience and express themselves as sexual beings.

This involves biological, physical, emotional, social, or spiritual feelings and behaviors. Stigma and discrimination are identified as major drivers of the virus in the country.

The media development organization says constant engagement with media managers, editors and reporters will reduce stigmatization and discrimination to create an enabling environment for increase access to health delivery services.

Making a PowerPoint presentation with focus on ending AIDS, Stigma and Discrimination in Liberia, Journalist Solomon Watkins of AAMIN said stigma is a negative stereotype. “It is a reality for many people with a mental illness. Once people get stigmatized they get discriminated which could eventually reduce interest for access to health services (treatment, care and support services)

“Stigma is still one of the biggest obstacles to ending the AIDS epidemic,” Journalist Watkins noted.

According to him, stigma and discrimination are machineries that have resulted into terminally ill persons to remain at home; while approach to engage those lost to follow-up and advocate for their welfare especially key populations which include men who have sex with men, female sex workers, uniform services and long distance traders, continue to remain a major challenge to national response to ending AIDS by 2030.

He therefore called on the journalists to create an environment void of stigma and discrimination, bias, and hate-mongering reporting that tend to provoke violence, human rights abuses against persons living with HIV as Liberia moves toward the 2017 general and presidential elections.

A 2013 Integrated Biological and Behavioral Surveillance Survey (IBBSS) indicates a high HIV prevalence among Key Populations: men who have sex with men (19.8%); female sex worker (9.8%); uniform services (5.0%); people who use drugs (5%); and long distance traders (4.5%).

Earlier speaking, Journalist Necus Andrews, executive director of the media network said the dialogue was intended to increase knowledge of editors and media managers on the rights of persons living with HIV and key populations including uniform personal, men who have sex with men, female commercial sex workers, and people who use drugs, etc, especially with stigma at the center stage.

According to him, to end AIDS requires collective efforts of all. Journalists need to go beyond what is being said of someone’s health status, sexual life (especially politicians) and do away with perception reporting in the media.

“We care about the health wellbeing of all. We need help the government and partners in accelerating approaches that will end AIDS by 2030,” Director Andrews noted.

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