Niger journalists attend seminar on AIDS prevention

Niamey- Niger (PANA) -- Niger's public and private radio journalists Tuesday underwent a day-long training programme to help them improve their knowledge of the HIV/AIDS.
The seminar, which was organised by the US Cultural Centre in Niamey, was themed: "The media at the service of the fight against AIDS.
" Opening the workshop, the president of the national communications observatory, Aboubacar Koudize, pointed out that the influence of the mass media, particularly the radio, on the population, was still strong.
Koudize said the local population still gives "a certain amount of credibility" to radio messages, especially when they concerned health issues.
He expressed the hope that at the end of the workshop, Niger would have a new breed of experienced journalists, capable of dealing with and popularising sensitive information pertaining to HIV/AIDS.
One thousand new cases of AIDS were reported on 31 December 2000, increasing the total number of cases to 5,600 in the country, according to the National AIDS Eradication Programme which reported the first cases in the country in 1987.
In 1999, 4,584 cases were reported while 56 percent of these were in the capital Niamey, according to the same source.
It indicated that some 86 percent of infected persons belong to the 20 years to 49 years age bracket.
The health ministry described the 5,600 cases as disturbing, and said they were just the tip of the iceberg.
In 1997 UNAIDS and WHO figures revealed that 27,000 AIDS cases were reported in Niger, with 25,000 deaths and 20,000 orphans.
Studies carried out in the country further revealed an HIV prevalence rate of between 1 and 15 percent and more, depending on the population groups.
Religious leaders recently called for a law requiring couples to undergo HIV tests before marriage.

20 june 2001 14:25:00

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