Centre for Disease Control (CDC) of the United States of America (USA) says there is need for journalists to digest the voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) science to simplify the same for their audiences.
CDC communications specialist Daniel Rutz said this on the sidelines of a week-long Reporting HIV Prevention: Scaling the Uptake of VMMC Training in Nairobi, Kenya, last week.
“It [the science] is not as difficult as it sounds. It is important for journalists to relate to the values of their audiences and make them understand the limitations of circumcision and its benefits and how it fits in the overall strategy for avoiding the HIV infection.
“Journalists are able to get the attention of the public, they are able to shape public opinion, they are able to inform the public and bring about the options that they have, and they can help them make decisions that can help them be safer,” said Rutz, a former Cable News Network (CNN) journalist.
In 2007, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and Aids (UNAids) issued recommendations to implement VMMC in settings with high HIV prevalence and low male circumcision uptake to improve and strengthen efforts to combat HIV.
“It is not the only thing of course, but it is an important part of doing that. So, I will hope that the journalists will be accurate in looking at how the science makes sense in terms of the public health recommendation,” added Rutz.
Malawi is among sub-Saharan African countries affected by the HIV pandemic with its infection rate hovering around 10 percent.
Up to 20 fellows from Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe gathered for the training workshop.
Impact Research and Development Organisation (IRDO) chief executive officer Kawango Agot said there were several myths about VMMC which journalists would help clear.
She identified as one of the myths beliefs that those who have been circumcised just stay indoors and cannot wear clothes for weeks, saying people are able to walk to work just after undergoing the procedure.
Those undergoing the VMMC procedure are advised to avoid indulging in sexual activity for six weeks to allow proper healing.