Vol. 5 Num 535 Mon. November 28, 2005  

'Raise awareness about rights of HIV-positives'

Speakers at a discussion yesterday called for extensive media coverage to raise awareness about the rights of HIV/Aids patients.

The HIV-positives are not an isolated segment of the society. Rather, they have equal rights as patients with other diseases, they added.

They also urged the media persons to be more sympathetic while publishing reports on HIV-infected people so that they can protect themselves from stigma and discrimination.

The Internews Network in cooperation with the Unicef and the USAID organised the discussion titled 'Bangladesh Media Leadership Meeting on HIV/Aids' at a city hotel.

The meeting was part of a programme initiative of UNAIDS Asia Pacific Leadership Forum (APLF) on HIV/Aids, according to organisers.

Speaking as the chief guest at the inaugural session, Information Minister M Shamsul Islam said the role of media leaders is crucial to making the people aware about HIV/Aids.

Md Abdus Salam, programme manager, National Aids/STD Programme (NASP), and Shamsuddin Ahmed, an official of Unicef, presented two papers.

Although the prevalence rate of HIV/Aids infections is low, Bangladesh is highly vulnerable because of rapid increase in the number of HIV-positives in neighbouring countries, according to the papers.

According to an official estimate, a total of 465 HIV-infected persons were detected so far, but the number could be as high as 7,500.

Bazlur Rahan, editor of the daily Sangbad, presided over the discussion while Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury, editor of The Bangladesh Observer, moderated it.

People still hesitate to discuss the HIV issue in public, but they should talk it more in order to reduce the risk of HIV infection, said Maj. Gen. Matiur Rahman, chief advisor to the National AIDS Committee.

Habiba Akhter, executive director of Ashar Alo, called for reducing HIV stigma to prevent spread of the deadly disease.

Abdul Quaiyum, joint editor of the Prothom Alo, Gaziul Hasan Khan, chief editor of BSS, Apel Mahmud, deputy director general of Bangladesh Betar, Shyamal Dutta, acting editor of the Bhorer Kagoj, Naimul Islam Khan, editor of the Amader Somoy, Rashed Chowdhury, editor of the BDNews24, Mostafa Kamal, editor of the New Nation, Abul Asad, editor of the Sangram, M Liakot, editor of the Purbanchal, and Delwar Hossain Khokon, editor of Loksamaj also spoke.

Information Minister M Shamsul Islam speaks at a discussion titled 'Bangladesh Media Leadership Meeting on HIV/Aids' at a city hotel yesterday. PHOTO: STAR