Poor research limiting HIV response
-media workshop says
Stabroek News
December 16, 2006

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Regional media representatives have identified a lack of research on HIV and AIDS coverage, inadequate human resources and poor understanding of new technologies as challenges to their optimal involvement in the region's response to the epidemic, a Caricom press release said.

At a conference hosted by the Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (Pancap) in Barbados last week, to accelerate the role of the media in reducing HIV and AIDS-related stigma and discrimination, these 'champions for change' developed an action plan to overcome these challenges.

The press release said the two-and-a-half day conference titled: 'Champions for Change III: Conference to accelerate the role of the media in reducing stigma and discrimination' was organised into three segments: a technical meeting, a forum and a Town Hall meeting.

The issues which emerged from the technical meeting, mainstreaming HIV and AIDS media coverage; enhancing HIV and AIDS media and communication programmes through increased use of ICT; and capitalising on the lessons learnt from media best practices were put to and refined by the wider forum.

The resulting draft action plan made a number of recommendations and identified specific activities to achieve these, the release said and a small committee comprising representatives of a number of Pancap partners, the regional media association and the Pancap Coordinating Unit was identified to advance the agenda for implementing the Action Plan.

The conference was chaired by Caricom Assistant Secretary-General, Human and Social Development, Dr Edward Greene and included representatives from the media, faith-based organisations and a number of Pancap partners.

Champions for Change is a DFID/Caricom/Pancap Initiative which seeks to address the issue of stigma and discrimination through key advocates who are leaders in their communities and willing to be forerunners in the effort to change attitudes.

The first conference in St Kitts and Nevis in 2004 brought together a wide cross-section of representatives from government, private sector, and civil society, cultural and sporting icons among others, to develop strategies and to forge partnerships for an effective response. The plan of action of that first conference recommended more focused interaction with specific sectors of society. In this context, in 2005 a conference was held for regional faith-based organisations and a programme of work is currently being implemented.