Z for Zimbabwe: Teaching the media about HIV/AIDS

Tzviatko Chiderov is a ONE volunteer from Chicago and has been a member since 2007. He is currently on assignment in Zimbabwe with Voluntary Services Overseas. Keep on the lookout for more posts like these in the series “Z for Zimbabwe.”

Zimbabwe Conference 2

I recently attended a media workshop for journalists and editors in Zimbabwe. It was organized by the National AIDS Council (NAC) and the objective was to educate and inform the media in order to accurately report on HIV and AIDS related issues. The attendees were encouraged to play an active role in the country’s response to the pandemic by seeking out opportunities to raise awareness and educate Zimbabweans on issues related to prevention, treatment and care.

It was a busy few days with a packed schedule. NAC leadership provided an overview of the organization and presented on financing the national response to HIV and AIDS. There were also speeches by media leaders, members of parliament and people living with HIV.

Zimbabwe Conference
The financing discussions began with the AIDS levy, which is a tax that all employed Zimbabweans pay. It goes directly to NAC and it helps fund antiretroviral medication and distribution, as well as other related programs. Another major source of financing is the Global Fund, which is an international financing institution that invests in the fight against AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. The application process was discussed in great detail, mostly fueled by Zimbabwe’s recent unsuccessful application for Round 10 funding.

There was a lively presentation by a person living with HIV. His speech was inspiring and surprisingly cheerful and entertaining. He spoke about experiencing a difficult period of depression and illness in response to his diagnosis. But he discussed his resilience and ability to take control of the virus and make positive contributions to society. His words and his story are living proof that being infected does not necessarily end your life. It is possible to live positively and happily.

Next, a member of parliament spoke about the government’s role in responding to HIV and AIDS. There is a committee in the Zimbabwean parliament which ensures that HIV and AIDS related issues remain a priority for policymakers.

There was also a condom demonstration session to show proper use. The female condom demonstration was especially interesting because most people, including myself, were not well-educated on the use of female condoms.

I really enjoy attending these types of events as they garner support and participation in the fight against HIV and AIDS. At this event I was reminded that given the necessary information everyone can and should participate in this ongoing struggle.

I am impressed and inspired by NAC’s work to provide the media with the tools necessary to reach all parts of the country with a consistent, truthful and powerful message.