Ujjwala Jatkar, Director – Training CDL
On 1st December, Worlds AIDS Day 2007, the Karnataka State AIDS Prevention Society in Bangalore, organised a special programme where perhaps for the first time in India, two local language (Kannada) writers were presented special awards.
These awards were instituted by Communication for Development and Learning (CDL), a non profit organization, in a UNICEF supported project titled ‘HIV/AIDS Journalism’.
The UNICEF Award for HIV/AIDS Journalism for informed, sensitive and responsible writing on HIV/AIDS went to Dr. Vasundhara Bhupathi, a freelance journalist and medical practitioner. Mr. Prakash Hebber, sub editor of the newspaper Vijay Karnataka received the second award for covering the complex issue of Pediatric AIDS and PPTCT.
“We are all aware that there is no vaccine available for HIV/AIDS, and the only vaccine available is correct information and awareness about prevention and control of the spread of HIV/AIDS”, said Mr.Vikas Verma, Communication Specialist for UNICEF, Hyderabad while presenting the citation. “UNICEF recognizes the fact that media and the journalists are thus very important “doctors” who give this vaccine to the society and hence has supported the project ‘HIV/AIDS journalism’ “, he added.
The award winning entries were selected by an eminent jury from the HIV/AIDS sector and media, who looked for accurate, objective and sensitive portrayal of the issues.
The awards were part of a process that prepared and equipped journalists to cover sensitive issues such as HIV/AIDS and its related complications. They were preceded by orientation programmes and training interventions to build the capacities of local language journalists.
The programmes emphasisied the understanding of the many issues related to HIV/AIDS such as need to maintain confidentiality, to develop non-judgmental attitudes and to respect the rights of the people living with HIV/AIDS.
The participating journalists were given copies of the Kannada manual titled ‘Journalist as Catalysts’ , published by UNDP, as resource material on the sensitive terminology accepted for reporting on HIV/AIDS They were also provided fact files that covered recent global, national, state and local level facts, statistics and contacts of institutions and NGOs working in the sector.
The Awards mark the arrival of informed, responsible and sensitive journalism on issues of HIV/AIDS in the Kannada language media.