In observance of World AIDS Day on December 1, a network of organizations working on HIV in the Philippines launched a media guide on HIV that will supposedly help Filipino journalists and media outlets produce “truthful, empowering, and human rights-based“ reporting on the issue.
‘Empowered Stories: Media Guide on HIV Reporting’ – said to contain up-to-date information about HIV in the Philippines – is supposed to be “an effort to encourage members of the media to veer away from sensationalized reporting”, and eyes to influence editorial guidelines.
“Sensationalizing and assuming shame in HIV reporting prevent people from getting tested and availing treatment,” said Anastacio Marasigan, president of TLF SHARE Collective, Inc., one of the organizations behind this media guide.
But as a top-to-bottom approach, this effort does not provide recognition to media practitioners already properly reporting on HIV in the Philippines.
“Public conversations surrounding HIV should inform the public of the latest developments and equip them, especially the youth, with accurate information to protect themselves,” Marasigan added.
‘Visibility is Key’
The media guide is part of the larger ‘Visibility is Key’ campaign, together with a series of videos featuring PLHIVs from different backgrounds.
“The campaign seeks to break down barriers by putting a spotlight on the lives of courageous individuals who have been living with HIV and leading the country’s HIV response,” said Dr. Louie Ocampo, country director of UNAIDS Philippines.
“Persons living with HIV can lead healthy and happy lives and can contribute to nation-building. Highlighting their stories will dispel misconceptions, foster empathy, and create an environment of acceptance.”
Letting communities be seen and lead
Mara Quesada, executive director of Action for Health Initiatives, Inc. (ACHIEVE), said that it will be difficult to address the rising incidence of HIV in the country without the meaningful participation of affected communities in decision-making processes, including in development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of HIV programs and services.
“Understanding the realities faced by affected communities helps ensure that the national HIV response is relevant and effective. It is time to let communities be seen and lead. It is time to change genres in storytelling about HIV from horror stories into stories of hope. We need a stronger stance against stigma and discrimination,” she added.
“Fostering a climate of openness for dialogue and education is the media’s unique contribution to achieving a world without AIDS by 2030,” Ocampo ended.