By Liz Rahaman

Local media houses have been called on to become more proactive and adopt a new approach in their reporting and coverage of HIV/AIDS issues in the Federation.

This call was made by Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health Elvis Newton at a recent launch of “Focus on HIV/AIDS,” a magazine that seek to inform readers about the disease.

Newton said the influence of the local media should not be under estimated and stated it is incumbent on stakeholders to forge closer and holistic partnership with the media.

Newton, who recently attended the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on HIV/AIDS, quoted President of MTV International Bill Roedy, who said that the media had a powerful role to play in educating the world (on HIV/AIDS).

“I believe that HIV/AIDS programming needs to become part of the DNA of media companies globally.”

“The media in St. Kitts and Nevis must become a part of the global initiative given the need to reduce the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in our Federation….The role of the media becomes critical in telling our people about how to prevent HIV/AIDS to negate its impacts on individuals, society and our economy.”

In this regard, he noted that the magazine represents a forged partnership between the media group and the Rotary Clubs of St. Kitts and Liamuiga.

The 40-page magazine,  published by Media in Support of People Living with HIV/AIDS, explains what is HIV and its related topics and also includes features on persons living with the disease and those who have died from it.

In her written Introduction, Chairperson of the National Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS Dr. Kathleen Allen-Ferdinand, pointed out the aim of the magazine is to enlighten and encourage discussion on HIV/AIDS and seeks to answer questions on the issue.

“It will reach sections of the population that may not normally be exposed to HIV education through traditional tutorials and mass media sound bites and it will also serve as a platform to encourage greater involvement of journalists and other media personnel in the campaign to reduce stigma and discrimination,” she said.

Endorsement for Focus on HIV/AIDS was also made by  CARICOM’s Assistant Secretary-General of Human and Social Development Edward Greene who wrote the Foreword with messages from the Presidents of the St. Kitts Rotary and Rotary Club of Liamuiga, Vernon Veira and Dr. Cameron Wilkinson respectively.