In a time when reporting on HIV and AIDS is in desperate need of fresh angles to avoid fatigue of the subject, it is exciting to come across an article once in a while that reports on the matter with an amazing human element. One such article was “Love in the time of HIV,” City Press (21/02/2010, p. 25) which was nominated for a MAD OAT Glad for reporting on the challenges HIV-positive teenagers face when they reach puberty.
The article profiled a HIV-positive 16-year-old girl, for whom a pseudonym was provided, from Swaziland who was facing a dilemma due to her status.
She had a crush on a boy from her church but was reluctant to tell him about her status – even though she believed it’s fair practice to disclose one’s status to their partners – as she was afraid he might “embarrass [her] by going around telling people about [her] status,” she was quoted as saying.
Providing a pseudonym for the child protected her identity and right to privacy, securing her from possible stigmatisation.
The 16-year-old was reportedly born with the virus but was only diagnosed alongside her mother, six years after her father, who also had the virus, died. She was 13 at the time and was immediately put on antiretrovirals (ARVs).
The article used this opportunity to focus on Swazi children affected by HIV, by introducing a range of statistics. “Almost 26% of the (Swazi) population between the ages of 15 to 49 are HIV-positive,” one of them read. This was educational and gave the story greater context.
Two doctors from a Swazi foundation who provided her with extensive counselling – were accessed. They spoke about the challenges the foundation faced dealing with HIV-positive children, most of whom were orphans, and the physical and emotional challenges they faced themselves as children carrying the virus.
This helped to strengthen the message of the article on the effects of HIV and AIDS on children.
Media Monitoring Africa commends City Press on their unique reporting on the virus and urges other media to take note.