Posted by Justin on July 27, 2017

The National HIV/AIDS/STI/TB Council (NAC) has gone into partnership with AIDS Health Care Foundation (AHF) to promote increased media coverage and improve quality in reporting on and around HIV and AIDS. The Media awards were launched by the two institutions at Hotel Intercontinental in Lusaka on Friday 21 April 2017.

NAC Director General Dr. Reuben Kamoto Mbewe challenged media practitioners not to compromise on accurate, dependable and verified information which is the basis of decision making for their audiences. He said The HIV sector was riddled with misinformation and myths which threatened to slow down progress on the response.

The main objective of the media awards on HIV and AIDS is to motivate the media to raise the profile of the HIV story on the editorial agenda of all media houses because the epidemic was far from being won.

“We  cannot afford to relax in information provision when the epidemic is still raging with around 46,000 cases of new infections occurring every year and the national HIV  prevalence rate still at about 11.6 per cent in the age group between 15-59 years old,” Dr. Mbewe  told journalists.

Dr. Mbewe specifically cited discrimination against persons living with HIV as one of the vices the media should help minimise and ultimately eliminate because it is a barrier to the success of the HIV response.

Another subject of grave concern the media were called upon to help bring to an end through dissemination of correct information is the spate of spiritual healing claims which discourage Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) with Dr Mbewe saying there is currently no substitute for Anti-Retroviral Drugs (ARVs) as treatment for HIV.

“Let us continue to propagate this truth for the benefit of those on treatment,” he said.

And representing AHF, Arica Chief of Bureau Dr Penninah Lutung Amor said the media contributed to major success of the international community level organization which is present in 39 countries 11 of which are in Africa. The global organization is primarily centered on HIV prevention and treatment services leveraging on advocacy principles.

The competition for the awards opened at the launch on 21st April, 2017 and will close on November 1 to give time to assessors to select the winning entries which will be announced on December 1 which is World AIDS Day.

The media awards are in the following categories; best radio publication, best TV publication, best print publication, best editor and best media house.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is a global nonprofit organization providing cutting-edge medicine and advocacy to more than 709, 412 people. Its mission is to rid the world of AIDS through a network of pharmacies, thrift stores, healthcare contracts and other strategic partnerships.

Since commencement of its operations in 2007 in Zambia, AHF has managed to place 66,104 clients on care and treatment as part of its support to government through HIV/AIDS advocacy, prevention services, treatment services and health system strengthening.

Report by NAC Communications Unit