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Internews Enlists More Than 1,000 Journalists in Fight Against HIV/AIDS
Date:9/10/2008

ARCATA, Calif., Sept. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- In some countries, lime juice is thought to ward off HIV/AIDS. In others, homosexuality is not publicly discussed.

Against such a backdrop of misinformation and stigma, how can developing countries fight a virus that has already killed tens of millions of people?

Part of the answer is to enlist the power of the local news media, says Internews Network, an international media development nonprofit that has provided in-depth training and mentoring to over 1,000 journalists. Leaders of the program from three countries-India, Kenya and Ethiopia-will gather in San Francisco to discuss their work tomorrow, Sept. 11 at a meeting hosted by the Global Philanthropy Forum at the World Affairs Council (312 Sutter Street, 2nd Floor) at 12 p.m.

"We estimate that these 1,000 journalists we trained reached a combined audience of 150 million people. So you can make the case that one journalist trained in HIV/AIDS reporting can single-handedly, on average, reach 150,000 people. That's a tremendously effective use of resources," says Dr. Laurie Zivetz, director of Internews' HIV/AIDS media training and mentoring project, and one of the panelists at the Sept. 11 presentation.

Three decades after HIV was first clinically identified, ordinary citizens living in many developing countries still lag far behind countries like the United States when it comes to receiving accurate information about how to prevent infection. Discrimination and stigma further complicate efforts to encourage prevention and treatment. Local journalists, talk show hosts, and radio deejays can and must play a key role in reporting effectively, in a way that reduces stigma and gives people accurate information about their health.

"Journalists are the prism through which far greater populations learn about this disease, so it's vitally important that they get the information correct," Dr. Zivetz says. "As the messenger, journalists have the ability- literally-to save lives."

Jon Cohen, a journalist for Science magazine who has covered HIV/AIDS extensively, recently evaluated the Internews project, saying that developing countries "are where we were 25 years ago" on HIV/AIDS coverage and that training is key. "HIV/AIDS reporting [in America] was very, very bad in the beginning, and we tend to forget about that," he said this week at a briefing on the project at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. He also said the "core values of Internews are right, stressing independence, accuracy and fairness" in reporting.

Dr. Zivetz will be joined by a panel of respected experts in their fields, including:
-- Jaya Shreedhar, M.D. . Internews Resident Journalism Advisor, India

-- Sonya De Masi . Internews Resident Journalism Advisor, Ethiopia

-- Sandy Ndonye, Internews Media Coordinator, Kenya

Internews, a nonprofit based in Arcata, California, has worked in 70 countries worldwide to empower local media worldwide to give people the news and information they need and the means to make their voices heard.

For more information, visit http://www.internews.org .

CONTACT:

John Boit (jboit@melwoodglobal.com)

Tel: (202) 822-2093


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SOURCE Internews
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