An article in the Witness on 13 February 2007, and available here, reflects the heartbreaking circumstances of a child affected by the impact of HIV and AIDS, it was a ‘Glad’ story because it brings a factual, sympathetic focus on the AIDS crisis – while respecting the subject’s/child’s right to privacy. I believe the article succeeds in raising awareness about the toll the epidemic is having on South African youth – whether they are HIV positive or not.

By using a child’s diary – the impact is profound, and in using this approach, avoids ‘HIV and AIDS reader fatigue’. The use of the diary format engages the reader’s interest which is sustained by the intimacy of the child’s thoughts.

I feel that the insight into the child’s life, her challenges and resilience is emotive; and hopefully any reader will grasp the reality of the impact of the epidemic and I hope this may become a catalyst for empathy and action. Throughout the feature article, the journalist protects the child’s identity by changing her name and the names of her contacts. In addition, the accompanying photograph, respects the child’s right to privacy and is taken from behind the child in a respectful manner.

I commend The Witness for their commitment to highlighting the impact of the epidemic on children, for writing from fresh angles, for their open door policy to NGOs in Pietermaritzburg, and their commitment to promoting children’s right to privacy.

– By Yvonne Spain, director of CINDI ((http://www.cindi.org.za/))