JOURNALISTS URGE TO EDUCATE PACIFIC ISLANDERS ABOUT AIDS/HIV

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JOURNALISTS URGED TO EDUCATE PACIFIC ISLANDERS ABOUT AIDS/HIV

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (July 24, 1998 - PACNEWS)---The United Nations UNAIDS inter-country program adviser based in Suva, Fiji, Steven Vete, has urged journalists in Vanuatu to write more informational articles about HIV/AIDS, given the lack of public understanding about the epidemic.

Vete, who coordinated a Port Vila workshop on reporting sensitive issues --specifically HIV/AIDS-- said that the AID/HIV epidemic has been given too little effective coverage by the Pacific Islands media.

Vete said reporters have been blindly accepting excuses that it is against Pacific cultures traditions and religions to talk about such sensitive issues as sexual reproduction and health, including HIV and AIDS.

He urged the media to raise questions about poverty issues and the effects of drugs and alcohol, which lead people to have unsafe sexual relationships.

Vete says one of the problems in the Pacific is the lack of resources within the media, making it difficult for journalists to have the time to probe deeper into these issues.

The media, he said, have the opportunity to help create a caring environment for people who have HIV/AIDS, instead of perpetuating such myths as HIV/AIDS is only a disease caught by prostitutes, homosexuals and drug-addicts.

Vete says one of the major goals of the workshop is to encourage journalists to meet with youth workers, health workers, religious workers and others from the community in an effort to forge links that will assure more significant reporting about HIV/AIDS.

The three-day workshop, which ended Thursday, was organized by UNAIDS and the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA).

 

NO AIDS CASES REPORTED IN VANUATU

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (July 23, 1998 - PACNEWS/Tuqiri)---Vanuatu remains free of the deadly disease AIDS, but the scenario could change at any time says the head of the HIV/AIDS unit of the Department of Health, Myriam Abel.

Abel attributed the country's current status of "no reported AIDS cases" to community awareness programs involving her office, the traditional chiefs, churches and women and youth groups.

She said the HIV/AIDS unit is educating health workers and the community about the threat of the AIDS virus, which she considers certain to turn up in Vanuatu eventually. Unit personnel are educating the community about living with persons infected with the disease and also are training health professionals about treatment and counseling procedures.

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