Some stakeholders on HIV awareness project have called on media practitioners to use non-stigmatising, non-judgmental and empowering words in reporting HIV and AIDS related issues.
They made the call during training on HIV and AIDS awareness, reporting and communication for media practitioners in Oyo State held at ABC Medical Care Centre, Ibadan.
Obatunde Oladapo, Executive Secretary, Oyo State Agency for the Control of AIDS, OYSACA, cautioned media practitioners from using stigmatising words in their reports, saying such things would do more harm to the infected persons. Media practitioners should go beyond their major function to take it as a responsibility to protect people from misinformation; they should help educate the people on HIV. HIV is not as deadly as being reported. Some media practitioners refer to it as a life-taking infection instead of referring to it as a life-threatening virus.
Oladapo also cautioned People Living With HIV, PLWHIV, to be wary of fake cure claimants both home and abroad, saying they are not real. OYSACA will ensure prompt and effective response to people living with HIV and survivors of abuse on medical, legal, emotional and psycho-social grounds, he said.
Also, Frederick Adegboye, a journalist, urged media practitioners to keep themselves abreast with terminologies and appropriate words to use in reporting HIV and AIDS.
He delivered papers entitled Appropriate Expressions in Reporting HIV and AIDS and Acronyms and full meanings of AIDS-related words and Institutions.
Olayide Akanni, member of Journalists Against AIDS, JAAIDS, in Nigeria, in his speech, urged media practitioners to help in the agenda of changing public perceptions about HIV through educative reportage.
Akanni in her paper entitled The role of Media in HIV/TB Response and Appropriate use of Language said that the use of language in HIV reporting was very critical. It is good to use accurate, non-stigmatising, non-judgmental and empowering words. Journalists should use words or terminologies that treat PLWHIV with dignity in their reports, she said.
In his view, Tolulope Olushola-Jimoh, OYSACA Community Mobilisation Officer, corroborated the submissions of other speakers, saying HIV could be treated and managed.
She stated that the Nigeria AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey would be carried out across the 33 local governments of the state in November, calling on the people to cooperate with the officials.
Olushola-Jimoh said that the initiative was sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Health and National Agency for the Control of AIDS, NACA.
A communique on the right and appropriate words to use in reporting HIV and AIDS cases was issued by the participants at the end of the workshop.
The participants in their various remarks commended Mrs Florence Ajimobi, wife of the state governor and OYSACA for organising the programme, which they described as educative.