Accra, May 24, GNA - The International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF) has joined forces with eight South African news organisations to improve media coverage of the complex issues surrounding HIV and AIDS in South Africa.
HIV and AIDS has had a devastating impact in South Africa, with more than 500,000 new infections each year, and 1.2 million children orphaned as a result of AIDS, a press release issued by IWMF from Washington DC, USA and copied to the Ghana News Agency said on Wednesday.
The release noted that mainstream media coverage of the epidemic had been characterised by a lack of urgency, failure to examine the reasons behind stigma and denial, and inadequate engagement with people living with the disease.
The stories of women, who were disproportionately affected by HIV and AIDS, often remain untold.
To address this critical gap in coverage, the IWMF created a prestigious HIV and AIDS Investigative Reporting Fellowship in South Africa to transform the way that HIV and AIDS reporting was done.
This year's fellows consisting of 10 South African-based journalists represent a range of South African news organisations, including both national and community media outlets.
Selected fellows would receive advanced training and coaching to produce innovative, high-quality investigative reporting on the complex, underreported issues surrounding HIV and AIDS, reflecting women's voices and concerns.
Each journalist is to produce three to four investigations for their news organisations as part of the IWMF programme.
Launched in 2011, the fellowship is supported by the MAC AIDS Fund, and administered by Frayintermedia.
The 2011 fellows produced more than 30 investigative pieces on a spectrum of issues including HIV and AIDS in the military, the spread of the disease through rape in prison populations, prevention of mother-to-child transmission, the stigma HIV-positive teens face and HIV and AIDS among sex workers.
The study also unveiled the impact of the disease on the agricultural sector, the role of male medical circumcision in HIV and AIDS prevention, and the plight of illegal immigrants in South Africa seeking HIV treatment.
The IWMF, with its network including women and men working in the news media in more than 130 countries, was founded in 1990.
It is a non-profit organisation working exclusively to strengthen the role of women in the news media worldwide and has conducted programmes in 25 countries.