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Dec 11, 2012

Sensitizing media in role for national health response

The story of Adi Mai came up during today’s media launch of the strategy for Getting to Zero and an informational kit for persons living with HIV. The concern from the organizers is that the media is not doing enough to sensitize the public on the transmission of the virus and that patients are often portrayed as victims when in fact they are survivors. The local Collaborative Network of Persons Living with HIV (CNET+) has been working with Central American Network of Persons Living with HIV (REDCA) on both the strategy and the information kit. News Five’s Delahnie Bain reports.

 

Delahnie Bain, Reporting

The goal is “Getting to Zero” and the strategy was presented today by the Collaborative Network of Persons Living with HIV (C-NET+). The focus of the event was to sensitize the media on the role it can play in the national response to HIV.

 

Eric Castellanos, Executive Director, CNet+

Eric Castellanos

“We’re presenting a strategy “Getting to Zero”, which is zero new infections, zero discrimination and zero deaths due to HIV. What we are planning here and what is our purpose here is to get the media more involved with the national response. The media has a social responsibility with the citizens of the country and we’re just making a step forward in the national response by bringing in the media and telling the media the ways in which it can help in the national response.”

 

Eric Castellanos, the Executive Director of C-NET+ says that Belize is behind other countries of Central America when it comes to media involvement, which he admits may have been a failure on their part.

 

Eric Castellanos

“We have noticed, for example in our involvement in Central America and REDCA that the media is very, very much involved in other countries in the national response. Every single day, there is news about HIV and what is happening in the national response in the newspapers, on TV. And this is not something that happens very often in Belize. Most of the cases, we hear about HIV on World AIDS Day only or when something very bad happens. So our goal here is to involve the media more so that the good news also gets to be shared. And also, the problems that we are facing can be shared on the media to be able to use the media as an advocating tool.”

 

An informational kit for persons living with HIV was also launched today and will be distributed to the over four thousand infected persons in Belize. The initiative, which started in March, was done with funding from the US Embassy’s Ambassadors for HIV Prevention Program.

 

Eric Castellanos

“These are the informational kits for persons living with HIV; they are in English and Spanish and it was an effort made with PASMO, REDCA and CNet+ in which first we had gatherings and support groups countrywide and we asked persons living with HIV what are the topics that most interest us in the country, what do we need to learn about? And with the collaboration of PASMO, we were able to print five thousand copies of this so we are saying that practically every single person that lives with HIV in this country will get one of these.”

 

The guide will educate persons with HIV on bettering their own lives and protecting others.

 

Eric Castellanos

“It has very good information; it’s divided in sections. It talks about support groups, it talks about health, about nutrition, about adherence—which is something very important for us persons living with HIV; we need to adhere to our medication—it talks about human rights, but most importantly it talks about the responsibilities that we have as persons living with HIV with ourselves and with the rest of society.  We will make them available through support groups and we also plan to distribute them. We will ask the VCT clinics and present them to MOH so that they can distribute to the clients. Not everyone is a part of the support group; that’s why we find the need to also work with the clinics and be able to distribute them to those persons who prefer to stay anonymous.”

 

Delahnie Bain for News Five.

 

A poster initiative is also expected to be launched early next year, which will highlight the success stories of persons living with HIV in Belize. 

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