|© UNICEF/HQ00-0343/ Balaguer|
|An adolescent girl reads a pamphlet at a UNICEF-supported workshop raising HIV/AIDS awareness in Brazil. Increasingly, young people are receiving messages on prevention through the mass media.|
At the XVI International AIDS Conference in Toronto, Canada next week, more than 20,000 experts will gather to share information on slowing the onslaught of the pandemic. This story highlights the key role of the media in achieving that goal.
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, 11 August 2006 – Twenty-two senior media executives from eight countries met in Rio de Janeiro this week for the first-ever Global Media AIDS Initiative Summit of Latin American Media Leaders.
The summit, held on 8 August, was hosted by TV Globo in partnership with UNICEF and supported by the Avina Foundation and MTV Networks International. In a Summit Declaration, delegates formally agreed to work together to address the pandemic in Latin America.
The declaration commits the companies to make HIV/AIDS a priority when they develop, produce and present new television, radio, Internet and print media content. The delegates also agreed to ensure that appropriate workplace policies on and HIV and AIDS are in place for their staffs.
“TV Globo approaches the issue of HIV/AIDS in every way that television can allow: journalistic news pieces, educational campaigns for prevention and including the theme in soap operas through entertainment program services,” said the Globo Organization’s Vice-President of Social Responsibility, José Roberto Marinho. “We believe that the relevance of this issue deserves such an approach.”
‘The time to act is now’
At least 1.6 million people in Latin America are living with HIV, and an estimated 140,000 people were infected with the virus last year, according to UNAIDS figures. New infections are increasingly occurring among women and girls, and young people between the ages of 15 to 24. AIDS deaths have left thousands of children without one or both parents, contributing to the increasing number of orphans in the region.
“The time to act is now,” said UNICEF’s Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Nils Kastberg. “We have the opportunity in our hands to change the course of the epidemic in Latin America, and the media are critical in our efforts to achieve this important goal.”
The Brazil meeting concluded with the establishment of a Latin American Media Partnership, part of the Global Media AIDS Initiative, to ensure that media throughout the region continue to strengthen their efforts in response to the AIDS pandemic.
Since the Global Media AIDS Initiative was launched in January 2004, there have been 11 summits of media leaders and producers. Over 100 companies from 62 countries have become involved in the initiative.