In Karachi, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is taking a significant step to combat the silence and stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS.
Following successful workshops in Islamabad, Peshawar, and Lahore, a two-day sensitization workshop in Karachi aimed to empower media professionals primarily focused on health issues. The goal was to equip them with the tools to address misconceptions, report ethically, and create a more compassionate narrative about HIV/AIDS-affected communities in Pakistan.
Media professionals from various print, electronic, and digital outlets actively engaged in the training workshop, participating in discussions on HIV/AIDS-related issues.
The first day of the workshop was dedicated to challenging discrimination and stigma associated with HIV/AIDS. During the opening ceremony, Dr. Sikandar Memon, Manager CDC HIV at the Communicable Disease Control Center, highlighted the scope, spread, and success of the AIDS Control Program in Sindh.
He emphasized the importance of collaborative efforts to combat HIV/AIDS, stating, “Together, we can build a society where individuals living with HIV/AIDS are not defined by their status but by their resilience and potential. This workshop underscores our collective commitment to this cause, and we are confident in the media’s ongoing role in supporting the HIV/AIDS-affected community.”
Waheed Ahmed Khalfe, an experienced journalist in the national media, discussed the issue of HIV in Pakistan, providing historical context and highlighting challenges. He stressed how the media can address societal stigma by presenting accurate and compassionate stories, contributing significantly to changing public perceptions and reducing discrimination against HIV/AIDS-affected communities in Pakistan.
Distinguished journalist and senior trainer Ms. Sheher Bano led a session on building empathy towards HIV/AIDS-affected communities. She emphasized, “Empathy is the key to breaking down stereotypes. We must recognize that individuals living with HIV/AIDS are human beings, and our support can help them lead normal, healthy, and productive lives.”
On the second day, Ghulam Mustafa Buledi, a senior journalist and expert in ethical reporting and behavior change communication in the media, emphasized the importance of maintaining ethical standards when reporting sensitive health issues like HIV/AIDS. He stated, “Our role as journalists extends beyond storytelling; it includes safeguarding the dignity and rights of the people we report on.”
The workshop also featured insights from Summayyah Rasheed, Program Officer for Stigma and Discrimination, and Dr. Sikandar Memon, Manager CDC HIV, who provided an overview of the project’s objectives and activities. Summayyah Rasheed explained, “Our goal is to reshape the narrative around HIV/AIDS, and this workshop is a significant part of that effort.”
Dr. Umar Riaz, Program Specialist, highlighted the pivotal role media professionals play in dispelling myths, reducing stigma, and creating a more inclusive society for individuals with HIV/AIDS. He emphasized that collaboration with the media is crucial for shaping a brighter, stigma-free future for HIV/AIDS-affected communities in Pakistan.
Mubashir Akram facilitated engaging training and dialogue sessions throughout the workshop.
This workshop in Karachi represents UNDP’s ongoing commitment to engage with media professionals, ultimately fostering a more compassionate understanding of HIV/AIDS and promoting positive change in public perceptions. It marks the fourth in a series of five training and consultation workshops, with the last one scheduled to be held in Quetta, Balochistan.