The New Times (Kigali)

5 December 2012

Rwanda: Journalists Faulted On HIV/Aids Fight

As government and other stakeholders lay strategies to reach the goal of having zero new HIV infections by 2015, media practitioners have been challenged to play their respective role.

During a meeting organised by ABASIRWA, the Rwanda network of journalists against HIV/AIDS, journalists were reminded that they have a major role to play in the prevention of new HIV infections through their work.

Innocent Bahati, the Executive Secretary of the association said the media should prioritise issues of HIV/AIDS.

"We even have a plan of writing to different media houses asking them to give more space to HIV-related issues such that we raise awareness to the public. We should make good use of the power and influence the media has on the public," he said.

Bahati further called upon journalists not to wait for invitations to cover stories related to HIV/AIDS but to also take the initiative to do stories that are not event-based.

Dr Ribakare Muhayimpudu, who is in charge of HIV treatment at Rwanda Biomedical Centre said that media represents society and should therefore be the eye of society and should inform the government of which strategies the public thinks would be helpful in reaching zero new HIV infections by 2015.

"Media should also disseminate information about the strategies and services government has made available to facilitate HIV prevention. For instance some people may not be aware of the condom vending machines in the different night spots," she said.

She also confirmed that there are no general statistics about the number of new HIV infections in the country.

However, sex workers constitute 51 per cent of new HIV infections.

The HIV prevalence rate in Rwanda is 3 per cent according to the 2010 Demographic Health Survey.

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