HIV and Stigma: new report from IBT

The International Broadcasting Trust’s new report HIV and Stigma: The Media Challenge was launched with a panel discussion at the House of Commons last night.

The report looks at the role of the media in challenging and changing societal attitudes, as it’s clear to all commentators that eradicating the shame related to HIV is a priority; what’s less clear is how you go about achieving this change.

Report author, Sophie Chalk, believes that the “media needs to normalize HIV”, which is a sentiment echoed by James Robertson from India HIV/AIDS Alliance. He observes that “people are still nervous around this issue. It’s a conversation ender. The discomfort around HIV is ever present.”

Media needs to normalize HIV - Sophie Chalk, report author

However, there are a number of challenges in tackling this stigma effectively. HIV activist and panellist Winnie Ssanyu Sseruma highlighted that “one of the key issues at the moment is HIV fatigue." The report identifies that the fatigue is both on the part of the public and the media. Other challenges include that in many countries there is a lack of training and resources for journalists.

Some organisations are creating global networks of journalists who write on HIV-related issues, and the report cites the Alliance’s Key Correspondents programme as the best known of these initiatives. “It’s a network of citizen journalists who are either living with HIV or have been affected by HIV. It also includes people who are working in the sector,” explains Sarah Oughton, editor and coordinator of the programme. “The point is to encourage them to find the issues and the stories which are most important to them and to give them an opportunity to get their voices heard on a wider platform.”

Javier Hourcade Bellocq runs the Key Correspondents Programme in Latin America where they have 30 active correspondents and publish 200 articles a year in Spanish: “There is not much information in the field for people who don’t speak English so this is very valuable. One of the key aims of the articles is to impact on decision makers.”

IBT’s aim in producing this report is to provide an overview of media initiatives which seek to reduce HIV related stigma, and to look at what works and what doesn’t.
The report can be downloaded from IBT’s site here: