Sierra Leone’s National AIDS Secretariat Director Urges Reporters To Take Active Role in Addressing HIV/AIDS Issues
Sierra Leone's HIV/AIDS Reporters Association should increase its role in addressing the country's HIV/AIDS epidemic, Brima Kargbo, director of the National AIDS Secretariat, said during the recent HARA inaugural meeting, the Concord Times/AllAfrica.com reports. Kargbo called on the association to play a part in discussions of HIV/AIDS to create an environment that will challenge stigma associated with the disease and promote HIV/AIDS services. Kargbo also said that a strong collaboration between the media and HIV/AIDS agencies would ensure that HIV/AIDS services -- including counseling, testing, condom distribution, treatment, care and support -- are accessible and affordable. "One of the ... roles of the media is to open channels of communication and foster discussion about HIV and interpersonal relationship," he said, adding, "Mass media can be instrument[al] in breaking the silence that surrounds the disease. We encourage HARA to focus on the need to overcome prejudice and encourage solidarity with people who are infected and affected by the virus."
UNAIDS Country Coordinator Mulunesh Tennagashaw said that the media must be well-organized and partner with other organizations within and outside Sierra Leone for an effective national response to HIV/AIDS, adding that the media play a central role in shaping culture and societal norms. Chief Medical Officer at the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, K.S. Daoh, said that the media should take part in critical evaluation, health policy development and community actions. HARA President Samuel Conteh pledged that the media would increase coverage of and attention to HIV/AIDS issues (Horner, Concord Times/AllAfrica.com, 10/28).