As the celebration of World AIDS Day draws near, media group under the banner: "Anti-AIDS Media Network" (AAMIN) with support from the United Nations joint Program on HIV (UNAIDS) has held a one-day dialogue with editors to discuss the pivotal role the media has in the National AIDS response.
Speaking at the opening of the dialogue which was held over the weekend at a local hotel in Monrovia, the Coordinator of AAMIN, Mr. Necus M. Andrews, said the aim of the dialogue was to provide the editors with information about the importance of reporting on AIDS, the role of the media in disseminating factual HIV/AIDS messages and the media achievement on HIV/AIDS prevention in Liberia.
According to Mr. Andrews, the fight against the disease will not be successful without the involvement of the media.
"Our passion as reporters in reporting on this specific national issue will not be actualized if our editors have less interest," he said.
The media network coordinator also added that considering the fact that estimated 36,000 people die of AIDS every year and 52,000 children are reportedly living without parents, this is a serious concern that needs to be tackled by every Liberian and the media has a greater share of the responsibility of ensuring that the people are adequately informed on how to take preventive measures.
In her PowerPoint presentation, Commissioner Juanita Ramirez of the National AIDS Commission (NAC) underscored the need for journalists to source information from the relevant institutions whenever they want to report on HIV and AIDS issues.
"Clearly, media organizations have an enormous influence in educating and empowering individuals to avoid contracting HIV. Doing so with maximum efficiency, however, requires a clear understanding of the challenges and the obstacles to widespread and effective HIV-prevention education," she said.
For his part, the Chairman of the National AIDS Commission, Dr. Ivan Camonor, stressed the need for media outlets to allot airtime and spaces to health issues especially HIV &AIDS. Dr. Camanor also assures media practitioners that his commission will continue engagement with the media to ensure that HIV & AIDS is eradicated.
Making closing remarks, UNAIDS Country Coordinator, Dr. Betru Tekle, pledged the UN continued support to combat HIV&AIDS globally noting that the media in Liberia cannot be excluded from the process. He added that the UNAIDS will continue to work along with partners including media in achieving global target. Dr. Tekle then called on the media to remain proactive.