Media Urged To Spotlight HIV/AIDS In Sport

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By James Muonwa, Mashonaland West Correspondent

THE media has been called upon to increase coverage on how HIV and AIDS are affecting sports personalities’ health and wellbeing in a bid to lessen the prevalence of new infections.

National AIDS Council (NAC) chief executive officer, Bernard Madzima made the appeal during an HIV/AIDS workshop for sports journalists in Chinhoyi Wednesday.

He said while information on the pandemic was available in the public domain, there was deficiency of correct statistics and facts, and what they entailed.

Madzima said: “Although there is a lot of information about HIV and the response in the public arena, the challenge of access to accurate facts and figures and their interpretation still exists. This is compounded by limited coverage of HIV within the sports sector as the emphasis seems to be on their celebrity lifestyles than their health and wellness.

“Without the relevant attention to HIV and general health risks including Covid-19 that affect sports personalities, we would seem like a nation that enjoys the fruits and ignores the fruit trees.”

NAC, he said, had shifted its focus to train sports journalists.

“This time we have decided to target sports journalists as we have noted that there is little coverage of HIV issues that relate to sports, yet sports personalities are usually at risk given the publicity and popularity that they are given by the media,” Madzima said.

The workshop aimed to ensure that reporters adequately cover HIV in their general sports reportage and promote relevant behavioural change among sports personalities.

The workshop follows recent ones conducted for editors and general reporters last year as part of our ongoing strategy to ensure that the response to HIV remains on the media agenda and that citizens keep informed about the new developments in the response.

“Our engagement with you as the news gatherers therefore seeks to address that gap and build bridges to ensure that HIV and its many facets, social, economic and developmental, remains on the media agenda, especially as it affects the sporting fraternity,” said the NAC boss.

NAC’s regularly engages the media to cultivate increased coverage of HIV and related issues including non-communicable diseases, which are becoming prevalent among our people. In addition to such workshops, the NAC regularly conducts media tours for both editors and reporters to expose them to the response to HIV in action in various communities, which they would otherwise miss in their general day to day work.

It also runs annual media awards as a strategy to promote consistent and factual coverage of the HIV beat.