Following recommendations from a three-country needs assessment and a Regional Editors Workshop in March 1999, Southern Africa Aids Information Dissemination (SAfAIDS) began producing media information packs to assist journalists in their coverage of HIV/AIDS.
Communication Strategies: 

The media packs are produced on a quarterly basis in English and Portuguese, and are widely disseminated throughout southern Africa. The packs include:

  • Fact sheets with basic data, statistics, and information about how HIV/AIDS impacts on different sectors, like youth (e.g., why youth are at risk and vulnerable; the importance of sex education; the possibility of youth changing their sexual behaviour; the definition of "youth"; youth campaigns; rights of youth; why teenage girls and young women are at higher risk of HIV infection);
  • feature stories written by journalists in the region that may be reproduced free of charge with acknowledgement. Feature summaries of approximately 300 words are available for radio broadcasters. One feature story, entitled "What's Love Got To Do With It?" profiles 16-year-old Chibi, who embodies the dilemma of many teenage girls in Zimbabwe: they recognise the dangers of unprotected sex but are under tremendous social and economic pressure to have sex;
  • a glossary of frequently used terms and suggestions for appropriate language (e.g., "commercial sex worker," not "prostitute");
  • story ideas that editors might consider assigning or journalists might investigate (e.g., stories exploring whether health services and governments are truly interested in implementing corrdinated policies and programmes to make commercial sex safer for sex workers, their clients and their families); and
  • a list of links and resources in the region, including websites.

The production process is participatory and involves media professionals from throughout the region. SAfAIDS develops a theme for each pack and suggestions around this theme are solicited from regional media partners who contribute their ideas, the best of which are selected to be part of a full feature. Contributors to the media information packs qualify through written submission of their HIV/AIDS work. Feature stories have been published by journalists from South Africa, Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Botswana. To date, the following packs have been produced and disseminated in the region: Youth and Sexuality, Sex Workers, Living Positively, HIV and the workplace, Celebrating HIV/AIDS (a World AIDS Day special), Men and HIV, Men Who Have Sex with Men, Parent-to-Child Transmission, Children and AIDS, and Voluntary Counselling and Testing.

Development Issues: 

HIV/AIDS.

Key Points: 

Currently underway is an evaluation survey which seeks to determine how the packs are being used by regional journalists to assess ways to increase their usefulness.

Source: 

Letter sent from Aulora Stally, Media Manager, SAfAIDS, to the Communication Initiative on February 21, 2002.