Media outlets in Uganda have been asked to harmonize the way stories about People Living With HIV [PLWHIV] are reported.
The call was raised by different stakeholders during a press conference that was conducted by the HIV CSO Community on 24th December, 2019 at Fairway Hotel in Kampala.
The Presser which gathered over 20 CSOs was conducted with the theme; Challenging Stigma and the Negative impact of HIV disclosure.
With an aim of challenging stigma and the negative HIV disclosure of one’s status, various panelists addressed the media against stigma.
Retired Major Rubaramira Ruranga encouraged the media to understand that HIV is only a disease just like other diseases and condemned individualizing HIV.
“HIV is not unique or funny, it is people with a back-ward mind who fight someone because of a disease. HIV is not an individual thing, testing and counselling should be taken to homes as no one could hate on the same brother as this will help reduce stigma in communities,” he said.
In the same story, Canon Gideon Byamugisha, a religious leader living with HIV requested people to turn to religion because it is full of love than hate.
He called upon the government to pick a leaf from Namirembe diocese who treated him well to an extent that he was able to become both a canon and a professor.
The Canon further cautioned the media to blame less and instead emphasize deeper against stigma directed to PLHIV as well as to take part in the fight against stigma.
“Ask members of parliament seeking votes and religious leaders about what they can do or what they are preaching to overcome stigma this way, the message gets to a number people,” he said.
This briefing comes just a few days after the NBS TV “After 5” show presenter, Edwin Katamba also known as MC Kats disclosed to the public about his positive living status.
Different media outlets in return made shocking waves of the story which raised different negative perceptions from the public.
To add on the call, Joanita Kawalya, an artist and a panelist who represented the public figure advised that the media and artists need to support one another.
She pointed out that public figures are associated with fame which makes it even more challenging to disclose their status. The reaction that has been given to Mc Kats since he disclosed his status might have affected other public figures who might have been willing to disclose their status to the public.