The Executive Secretary, Oyo State Agency for the Control of AIDS (OYSACA), Mr. Obatunde Oladapo has urged the media to be wary of claims of HIV cure, but rather intensify on educating Nigerians on HIV and how best to avoid getting infected.
Oladapo, speaking at a 2-day-training on HIV/AIDS awareness, reporting and communications for media practitioners in Oyo State said many still come forward with unproven HIV treatment although for ages none has been found effective.
He said many of the claimants of HIV end up further impoverishing people living with HIV, who in the name of finding a cure, end up selling almost all they own to assess treatment.
Oladapo, who cautioned patronising such claimants, said some still move around deceiving people on the efficacy of their HIV treatment and asking them to discontinue taking ARVs.
Resource persons at the training also emphasised that appropriate expressions by the media to qualify people living with HIV is key to eradicating stigmatisation and discrimination in the society.
One of the resource person, Ms. Olayide Akanni of the Journalists Against AIDS (JAIDS) Nigeria, urged the media to show empathy when reporting HIV issues as well as always use accurate, non-stigmatising, non-judgemental and empowering words in their reportage.
Similarly, another resource person and a sub-editor with a national newspaper, Mr. Fredrick Adegboye stated that AIDS should not be used when HIV is the intention because they are two different issues.
Adegboye, nothing that there is nothing like AIDS test but rather HIV test, stated that effects of stigma and discrimination are myriads, including rejection, emotional trauma, and self-blame.
He declared “what kills a person living with HIV includes the initial shock of testing positive to HIV antibodies, poverty, Ignorance, self-stigma, lack of access to proper, regular and affordable medical care and abandonment and isolation.”
Participants at the end of the training urged that people living with HIV should not be discriminated against but rather accommodated with empathy.
While asking that the mass media should not use sensational stories as this is against the ethics of journalism, they asked the media to help educate people that testing HIV positive does not mean the end of life as there are other ailments killing faster than HIV.
Also, they urged members of the public to always go for HIV test to know their status as early detection helps to provide success.
According to them, “Journalists should not be emotionally carried away while dealing with HIV/AIDS-related stories and be sure that justice is done to all sides of the story.”