Sandra Maricho

GWERU – Zimbabwean journalists have been urged to partner scientists carrying out research on HIV/AIDS prevention and cure, so that they can best inform the public.

During a training workshop held in the Midlands capital recently, HIV prevention research communications expert Munyaradzi Chiwara said a lot of prevention and cure research on HIV and AIDS was being carried out by scientists across the globe, emphasising the need for cordial relationships amongst journalists and the scientists for accurate information.

“We have introduced media science cafés with the idea of creating platforms where scientists working on HIV and AIDS related research work together with the media in each and every stage of the findings to avoid misrepresentation of facts,” said Chiwara.

“There is a very big division between journalists and scientists and there is great fear amongst scientists that journalists misrepresent their findings through articles which actually kill their researches. This is the main reason why media science cafes were introduced so that working relations between the two will actually improve.”

When the two groups come together, interface and share their knowledge which the researchers would want to convey to the public, the consumers would get accurate information.

Chiwara also gave an account of why Magaya’s Aguma drug was disapproved sighting lack of scientific research.

“The controversial drug introduced by Magaya was disapproved because it lacked scientific support. Research on issues like HIV and AIDS takes lots of time because it involves several testing of the drug before it is consumed by the public,” Chiwara said.

“All medicine go through a rigorous research and laboratory testing so that every component in the drugs are known and the side effects to those allergic to the drug. In media science café the media and scientists then work together on every stage so that they present accurate information to the society. When the products finally comes out people already have the information and will not panic but would be ready to consume the products.”

The program of training journalists on accurate reporting on HIV and AIDS research findings has been conducted throughout the country and was well attended by various people who showed much interest in learning new things about HIV and AIDS.

Speaking at the same workshop Anna Miti, a veteran journalist, said research showed that married women in Zimbabwe were at a higher risk of contracting HIV and AIDS, compared to unmarried women.

“It’s so disheartening to note that married women are at higher risk of contracting HIV and AIDS as compared to unmarried women the reason being that they cannot negotiate for safe sex with their husbands. Even though unmarried woman knows that her husband has been cheating on her it is very difficult for her to ask the husband to use protection during sexual intercourse .A lot of women are dying in silent because of the patriarchal society we are living in,” Miti said.

Some of the researches recently done on HIV and AIDS prevention include PEP, circumcision, proper use of condoms, PMTCT among others.