Media powerful tool to eliminate stigma towards people living with HIV
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KKM deputy director general (Public Health), Datuk Dr Norhayati Rusli (3rd from left) accompanied by Malaysian Aids Foundation Chairman, Prof Datuk Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman (right) and Sime Darby Foundation Council Member, Puan Sri Normah Hashim (2nd from left) pose together award winner during the 2023 Red Ribbon Awards ceremony in Kuala Lumpur. — NSTP/HAIRUL ANUAR RAHIM
KUALA LUMPUR: The role of the media is highly significant as a powerful tool to eliminate stigma and prejudice towards individuals living with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
"It is the media's job to raise awareness, educating the public, removing stigma towards vulnerable groups and also promoting science advancement," said Chairman of the Malaysian AIDS Foundation, Prof Datuk Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman.
Dr Adeeba highlighted that the media was extremely vital particularly in this era of fake news, misinformation and disinformation.
"At the Malaysian AIDS Foundation (MAF) we emphasise on the role of media substantially, we conduct media training and take them to conferences to expose them to the latest advancement in treating HIV patients," explained Dr. Adeeba at the Red Ribbon Media Awards 2023.
She also mentioned that the media had greatly helped in assisting the efforts of the Ministry of Health (MOH) to disseminate information regarding the Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) drug as a necessary health tool.
Present at the event was also Datuk Dr Norhayati Rusli, Deputy Director-General of Health.
"Ever since the first HIV case in 1986, the virus has ingrained a deep seated fear within the general public in this country.
"The insufficient amount of information has created misconception and stigma towards HIV patients which affected them both mentally and socially," said Dr Norhayati as a representative of Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa.
Dr Norhayati said that the number of HIV cases had decreased significantly from 2002 where the total recorded cases were 6,978 but in 2022, only 3,177 cases were recorded.
"The media holds immense power in shaping and shifting the public's perception," she said, adding that the media was imperative for disseminating accurate information and providing knowledge for the marginalised groups.
The Red Ribbon Media Awards was organised by the Malaysian AIDS Foundation to honour media members for their outstanding journalism on HIV and AIDS.
The categories of awards include printed media, broadcast media and web-based media where journalists, writers or producers of HIV or AIDS related media content can submit their entries to be selected as the winner.