||Southern Africa is home to nearly two-thirds of those living with HIV/AIDS globally. Despite significant obstacles, a huge response has been mounted by a host of government, private and civil society organisations. There is a general expectation that the media plays an important role in responding to the epidemic. But what exactly is that role? How successfully is it played in individual developing countries? And how could it be improved? This report shares the combined findings of five studies carried out by the Panos London AIDS Programme with the support of Johns Hopkins University.
The studies took place in Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe – countries that, while having high HIV prevalence in common, provide diverse contexts in terms of their media environment, governance, culture and national response to HIV/AIDS. The studies aimed to explore some of the issues and tensions involved in the relationship between the media and HIV/AIDS. In particular, they aimed to identify how the media could better fulfil its potential role in responding to the epidemic, for example, by ‘moving beyond awareness raising’ and acting as a channel to encourage individual and social change, providing a forum for debate and holding decision-makers to account.
The initial part of this report analyses the cross-country context, themes and recommendations emerging from the five studies. The latter part summarises the individual studies, covering: the national political and HIV/AIDS context; media policy and ownership; the relationship between the media and HIV/AIDS; and specific recommendations.
The studies focused on radio and print media. They used desk research, individual interviews and group discussions, involving editors, broadcasters, journalists, academics and health workers, as well as representatives of HIV/AIDS agencies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), faith-based groups and the general public. They were carried out by local consultants over two months during 2004, with supplementary desk research and interviews in 2005.
(Excerpt of the Executive Summary)