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Working with the media

The testimonies that touch on the relationship between social movements and the media look at the role of media in response to the HIV epidemic generally, as well as specifically on how the media can support social movements.

Some of the main issues to emerge include voice and representation, with several of the narrators suggesting that people living with HIV and AIDS should have more opportunities to speak and be heard in the media, particularly through radio. This subject comes up in a number of the Khululeka testimonies, as some members of the group were undergoing training with a community radio station (Bush Radio) in preparation for hosting their own one-hour slot.

Narrators indicate that the media has a key role to play in disseminating information and promoting HIV prevention among the general public. In addition, the media (and particularly radio) is seen as a way to connect people and encourage people who may not yet be living positively with their diagnosis to come forward and seek out a local support group.

Indeed, it was through information they had heard on the radio or read in leaflets or on posters that some of the narrators had been able to identify and find a local support group.

Hearing you are not alone

Maybe there’s someone who is hiding because of fear. When this person hears someone speaking on the radio this will help the other person to come out and also know that he or she is not alone.

Karolina (female), member of ICW, Namibia

Finding support

You see, in the north there was no support group, there was nothing. You keep your status within yourself. You will not find a person with whom you can share information or ideas about HIV and AIDS.

I came here and started staying with one of my friends. We were trying to find the Catholic AIDS Action Support Group, and we went to many different places… I had heard that there’s one near Katutura, and I was just standing and looking around to see whether I could find a pamphlet. I could see no such thing. Then one day I heard on the radio that the office is near the Red Cross Society.

The group has brought a lot into my life. It has helped me to accept my situation and also to know that I am a person like other people. I can survive with the virus for a long time, you know.

Maria (female), member of Lironga Eparu, Namibia

Informing the nation

The media are really trying their best to give information about HIV and AIDS to the nation. But the people themselves, they don’t want to change their lifestyle and the media is trying the best they can.

Maria (female), member of Lironga Eparu, Namibia

Reaching out to men who aren’t yet free to talk

We had an open-air education [event] once at Nyanga Junction where we were speaking about HIV and AIDS. As an individual, you have to speak your mind about what you feel and what you know; that’s how I came to speak about what was happening within my life.

We will have a slot on Bush Radio and have discussions about topics pertaining to HIV and let people know that a men’s support group is here. Through the slot we want to reach out to more men out there who are living with the disease, but who aren’t free yet to talk about it.

(male), member of Khululeka, South Africa

Missing voices

I think at the moment the media is getting stories from other and different sources on HIV and AIDS, but they are missing people living with HIV. They should not go to an NGO and hear what the director is talking about, what they are doing. They should invite people living with HIV. Please come, come to us…

The media should take our stories, like what TAC is doing. I think members of TAC are talking to the media, but in Namibia we haven’t got that. There’s information, but a lot of it is in print form, which most people don’t get – they are not readers.

There are messages on the radio, but they are being given by people who are not positive, they are negative. So how can you attract a woman who is positive to listen to someone who does not know exactly what it means to live with HIV?

They should put on people who are living with HIV – to come and talk on a one-hour slot there, talk about their experience. I think this will also reduce stigma and violence because I am sure if men start hearing women on the radio, talking about their experiences, they will start to understand why they need not be violent against women.

Jeni (female), member of ICW, Namibia

They only cover TAC when they’ve got a march

In most cases when TAC is working with the media it would be with an independent TV or radio station. Since there’s a perception that TAC is fighting against government, government media aren’t actually covering TAC that much. They only cover TAC when they’ve got a march, but they do not state the reasons why that march is there. They give out this negative attitude about TAC to our communities.

The media could give a more broad explanation about TAC, about its campaigns; explain to civil society actually what TAC is about. When TAC has a campaign, they should not put it that TAC is fighting the government, but put it that TAC is – because we are actually – the people’s voices. Civil society is demanding this – and from government – because it is our right as citizens.

Female, member of TAC, South Africa


Working with the media is a key theme of the Speaking freely on HIV oral testimony project.


South Africa | Gerald: sharing the burden

South Africa | Jo-Ann: joining the struggle

South Africa | John: a loving family

South Africa | Nomafu: encouraging others

South Africa | Patrick: beauty in equality

South Africa | Sylvia: anger to acceptance

Namibia | CJ: fulfilling our potential

Namibia | Karolina: bringing me peace

Namibia | Jeni: leaving stigma behind

Namibia | Maria: information is essential

Key themes

Introduction to the project

Hopes and visions

Challenging the government

Working with the media

Support through community

Why join… or start a movement?

Living with HIV

Gender dimensions

Identity, culture and context