Some persons living with HIV who double as the Ambassadors of the Heart to Heart campaign being run by the Ghana AIDS Commission have made a passionate appeal towards journalists and media personnel to tone down on the very unsavory ways with which they describe persons living with HIV.
The comments came about at a two day training seminar which was held for Journalists and Editors of various media houses from parts of the country by the Ghana AIDS Commission in Accra.
The training seminar was held over a two day period with Editors and Journalists from various Media Houses from some parts of the Country. On the first day, two of the Heart to Heart Ambassadors, namely Rev John Azumah and Mrs. Lydia Azumah were present and they spoke about how a lot of media people describe Persons Living with HIV and how it negatively affects such persons and even those who have not yet tested for HIV.
Some of the media persons present admitted that indeed they have been at fault and promised to do better, and to also educate their other colleagues in the respective organizations.
Rev Azumah stressed that the more the media portrays PLHIV with such non dignifying descriptions, the more negative effects it will have on the entire populace as it can cause people to not want to know their status and for those who are positive, they can decide to ignore treatment.
Such statements will eventually fuel stigma and discrimination against PLHIVs.
Using himself and his wife as examples, Rev Azumah asked the audience if the fact that they have the HIV virus has made them any less human than all others. They answered “No” and he continued that now, because of treatment, PLHIV can look healthy once they adhere to their treatment.
Another appeal was made to especially the print and television media houses. He appealed that they should desist from using gory images that were initially used to represent AIDS patients to still represent PLHIV now.
He pleaded that Journalists should educate themselves on the subject enough to be able to educate their audience with the right information enough to help cause a positive behavioral change where issues concerning HIV are concerned.
On the second day they were joined by another Ambassador of the campaign, Gifty Torkornoo who is actually married to a man who does not have HIV.