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More than 1,000 Journalists Enlisted in Fight Against HIV/AIDS
Date:9/4/2008

WASHINGTON, Sept. 4 /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 four countries -- India, Nigeria, Kenya, and Ethiopia -- will gather in Washington, D.C. to discuss their work at the National Press Club on Sept. 9. Registration and refreshments are from 8:30-9:00 a.m., and the special briefing, "Why Local Media Matters for Public Health," runs from 9:00 to 10:30 a.m. The media is invited to attend.

"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. 9 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."

Dr. Zivetz will be joined by a panel of respected experts, including:

-- Jon Cohen - Correspondent on HIV/AIDS and health issues, Science

magazine

-- Mia Malan - Internews Senior Health Journalism Advisor, Washington,

D.C.

-- Jaya Shreedhar, M.D. . Resident Journalism Advisor, India

-- Ida Jooste . Resident Journalism Advisor, Kenya

-- Josephine Kamara . Resident Journalism Advisor, Nigeria

-- Sonya De Masi . Resident Journalism Advisor, Ethiopia

Internews, a nonprofit based in California with an office in Washington, D.C., 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.

The National Press Club is located at 529 14th Street NW in Washington, D.C. The briefing will be held in the First Amendment Room on the 13th floor. For more information, visit http://www.internews.org.


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SOURCE Internews
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