Play your role in combating HIV prevalence, scribes told

Media practitioners have been urged to use their respective platforms and clout within society to heighten the fight against HIV/Aids

Media practitioners have been urged to use their respective platforms and clout within society to heighten the fight against HIV/Aids

This was said during a meeting between Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) and the media fraternity organised as part of the year-long campaign against HIV/Aids. The campaign began in December last year.

The meeting was premised on last year’s World Aids Day theme; “The Role of Media in Early HIV Treatment to Reduce Aids-related Mortality and Morbidity.”

Dr Sabin Nsanzimana, the head of HIV/Aids division at RBC, called on journalists to play a great part in ensuring that by the end of the campaign, in November, HIV/Aids-related deaths is down by half.

“Research done last year showed that some people who test positive delay to start treatment. Thousands die in that situation every year,” Dr Nsanzimana said.

He said some go into self-destructive mode on finding their status positive, challenging the media to play their role to reverse the situation.

‘We appreciate what the media has done thus far, but this year we want you to even go an extra mile to help ensure that new infection rates are significantly reduced,” Dr Nsanzimana said.

“HIV prevalence rate by sex indicates that 3.7 per cent of the women are infected; men are 2.3 per cent, whereas by regions, the central ranks highest with 7.3 per cent infections. Through this campaign, we want the number of people infected to reduce by two thirds and the mortality rates to reduce by a half.”

Dieudonne Ruturwa, the community mobilisation advisor at Unaids, said Rwanda’s earlier decision to scale up HIV treatment, combined with robust HIV-related financial support from development partners, substantially strengthened the country’s primary care system.

However, he added, there is no time for complacency since there is still more to be done in addressing issues like HIV among vulnerable groups, stigma and discrimination, which hinder access to services.

“The media should highlight, support and advocate for ending this…it should continue to strive to encourage people to go for periodic HIV testing and seek early access to treatment,” Ruturwa said.

He also commended the work by the association of journalists reporting on HIV/Aids, Abasirwa, saying the network has been a key partner.

The Executive Secretary of the Media High Council, Peacemaker Mbungiramihigo, told journalists that this was an opportunity for them to play their role in society as informers and educators.

“We decided to continue with the fight against HIV/Aids through the media and journalists decided to continue publishing about HIV, write comforting stories for people living with the virus, present any problems that may derail the fight and, most importantly, make constant follow-ups to see if what they publish has any impact on society,” he said.