Solomon Islands' Media Should Increase HIV/AIDS Awareness, Combat Stigma, Official Says

Media outlets in the Solomon Islands should undertake efforts to increase awareness about HIV/AIDS and counteract the stigma associated with the disease, Joe Weber, Oxfam International representative for the country, said recently at the close of a week-long media training on HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections, PINS/Solomon Star News reports. The meeting -- funded by Oxfam and organized by the Solomon Islands Planned Parenthood Association -- included 20 media personnel from various organizations in the country's capital of Honiara.

According to Weber, many people in the Solomon Islands have limited knowledge about HIV/AIDS and are unaware of strategies to protect themselves and their communities against the disease. He said the media can play a role in reversing this trend by providing basic information about HIV/AIDS, its impact on society and how it can hamper development goals. Weber suggested that media outlets could run stories about people living with HIV in order to shed light on the disease and reduce fear associated with the virus. He continued that these stories could describe how people live with HIV, as well as how families and communities deal with its effects. In addition, Weber said the media could explore how gender inequality and gender-based violence increase vulnerability to HIV among women. Weber also encouraged participants to report on nongovernmental organizations and faith-based groups that undertake efforts to prevent HIV/AIDS. According to Weber, media outlets can help foster a supportive environment that could help curb the spread of HIV in local communities (Kivo, PINS/Solomon Star News, 4/28).

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