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China Daily Website

Toward zero discrimination

Updated: 2013-11-07 11:13
By Michel Sidibe (

On the occasion of Journalists Day, we recognize the critical role of journalists and the media in the response to HIV. China’s media can lead the way to zero discrimination.

We know that HIV prevention and treatment efforts have progressed with lightning speed in recent years. Thanks to improved treatment regimens and medicines to prevent new HIV infections among children, we have the tools to effectively prevent the spread of HIV and dramatically increase longevity and quality of life for people living with HIV.

But although medicine is a powerful tool in the response to HIV, we also recognize the incredible power of another tool—information.

Every year, people become infected with HIV because they lack access to information on HIV prevention. And people die because they do not receive information on lifesaving anti-retroviral treatment. We know that stigma and discrimination play a role. Fear can keep people from getting an HIV test or accessing crucial health services.

We know that true progress in the response to HIV requires changing and challenging entrenched beliefs and behaviors. By improving access to accurate information and by reporting about the lives and perspectives of people most affected by HIV, journalists can contribute to these changes, and ultimately save lives.

In China, we have already seen bold leadership and engagement from the media. From major news agencies, to provincial and local newspapers, TV channels and individual journalists, action is being taken.

China has certainly demonstrated impressive progress in its response to HIV. According to government reports between 2005 and 2013, the number of people accessing HIV treatment in China increased almost ten-fold, to over 190,000. China is a leader in many areas, introducing and adapting lessons from other countries, including developing the world’s largest harm reduction program for drug users, providing services to over 200,000 people. Progress in the AIDS response in China means progress for the world, and to see such progress in such a short time has been truly inspirational. But there is still more we can do.

On the occasion of Journalists Day, I call on more media partners to get involved in ensuring accurate and informative reporting on HIV. The media has the power to save lives, to build a healthy society, and to make a difference in the lives of people living with HIV.

With your support and action, I am confident that we can ensure that all children are born free from HIV, new HIV infections are prevented and people living with HIV have access to lifesaving treatment services in an environment free from fear of stigma and discrimination. Let us not hesitate. The time for action is now!