Leveraging the Power of Media to End AIDS

In Malawi, journalists visited EGPAF-supported sites to witness the impact we’re having on the fight to end AIDS in children.

OLIVER ASSELIN/CDI

Recently, two Malawian journalists were honored with a prestigious award for excellence in reporting on pediatric and adolescent HIV by the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Malawi chapter as part of the celebrations to mark World Press Freedom Day on May 3rd. EGPAF partnered with MISA to help support this award.

One of the winners, freelance reporter Owen Nyaka wrote a compelling piece for the Thomas Reuters Foundation called, Adolescents: the invisible generation HIV response. The second winner, Innocent Kumchedwa won in the electronic category with his radio investigative story Breeding child mortality that stirred health providers to act on the challenges faced in Malawi’s central referral hospital’s pediatric ward.

More than 440 entries were submitted to the 2014/15 MISA media awards, across 28 categories, 11 of which encompass both print and electronic stories.

Media is a powerful storytelling tool that has the ability to reach, educate and can positively motivate audiences to seek ways to empower themselves to get involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

“Media is a critical partner and we are committed to encouraging reliable, evidence-based, and factual journalism to sustain momentum in the effort to end AIDS in children,” said Clare Dougherty, EGPAF’s Senior Director of External Affairs.

While science has delivered the medicines and tools needed to contain HIV, public education efforts have helped spread information about HIV awareness, prevention and education further and faster than any other tool. By opening communication and fostering dialogue about HIV/AIDS, the news media is helping to break the silence that fuels the spread of HIV and challenges discrimination and stigma – some of the biggest obstacles to fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic globally today.

When journalists highlight the many facets and stories of HIV/AIDS, there is more action and accountability among engaged audiences and world leaders to use their knowledge, power and resources effectively.

Scaled-up programs based on scientific evidence, public education and community engagement have helped to put the HIV epidemic to a tipping-point trajectory--when there will be fewer new infections than individuals initiated on HIV antiretroviral treatment (ART). According to the 2014 UNAIDS GAP report, the percentage of people living with HIV who are not receiving ART reduced from 90 percent in 2006 to 63 percent in 2013.

Now more than ever, efforts must be sustained to safeguard the gains we’ve made and maintain the steady progress toward an AIDS-free generation. Supporting the news media to continue to report and share powerful global health success stories will help us cross the finish line.