Coverage of HIV/AIDS low

According to an HIV and AIDS and Gender Monitoring report launched on Tuesday by Gender and Media Southern Africa Network ‘ Zimbabwe (Gemsi), it was established that only 3 percent of news stories carried in the local media focused on the pandemic. The media, it was pointed out, tended to focus more on political and other issues while HIV/Aids was not well mainstreamed into coverage. The report was a result of a baseline study carried out in 11 countries in Southern Africa, which monitored 118 media houses for a period of 15 days between October and November last year. In Zimbabwe weekly papers such as Masvingo Star and the Zimbabwe Standard had the highest coverage of HIV/AIDS, recording 9 and 6 percent respectively. The Daily Mirror and Sunday Mirror had 5 percent coverage, while other daily papers recorded between 3,5 and 3,1 percent. Radio and television stories accounted for 4 and 1,5 percent respectively. Male voices were said to be predominating in all areas of HIV coverage as compared to women. People living with HIV were hardly heard, constituting 4 percent of all sources while officials, United Nations agencies and experts constituted the majority of sources. Women living with HIV were not vocal with those mentioned in the study constituting 29 percent of the total in Zimbabwe compared to 44 percent of the total in the region. “This suggests that a conducive environment has yet to be created for all people with HIV, but especially women, to speak out,” the report said. Other key findings included prevention and care being the main topics of coverage in Zimbabwe while treatment and impact received little coverage. Although most coverage of HIV and AIDS in the country remained low, Zimbabwe had a higher proportion of in-depth coverage as compared to other countries in the region. Gemsi is a local chapter of Gender and Media Southern Africa, a regional network of individuals and organisations that seek to promote gender equality in and through the media. The report is expected to culminate in the roll-out of gender and HIV and AIDS policies in media houses as part of the Southern African Media Action Plan on HIV/AIDS and Gender. ‘ New Ziana.

May 2006
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