Journalists Flock to VOA’s HIV/AIDS Training in Democratic Republic of Congo

Journalists across the Democratic Republic of Congo are learning about the HIV/AIDS epidemic in a series of eight workshops organized by the Voice of America.

“We are very happy with the VOA initiative and its contribution to the fight against HIV/AIDS,” said Dr. Aime Mboyo, coordinator of the national HIV/AIDS program in DRC.

The workshops, organized by Ferdinand Ferella of VOA’s French-to-Africa Service, include a mix of information about the HIV/AIDS epidemic in DRC, along with practical information about covering health issues such as HIV/AIDS. The VOA workshops are supported by the U.S. Department of State through its embassy in Kinshasa.

Dr. Mboyo said, “We are already seeing the first results. Participants in the Kinshasa and Lubumbashi workshops have decided to set up a network to stay in touch and exchange information. The role of the media is crucial, particularly community radio because 70 percent of the population lives in rural areas,” she said.

The workshops also drew praise from participants, such as Zacharie Lunda of Radio Parec in Mulongo. “I live in a remote town in Katanga,” Lunda said, “I was very touched to be invited to the Lubumbashi workshop, just the idea that someone out there cares for me.”

The workshops began in Kinshasa, in late November, and more are scheduled for Goma, Dec. 7-8, Bukavu, Dec. 10-11, and Kisangani, Dec. 14-15. Early next year, VOA will also organize programs in Mbuji-Mayi, Kananga and Matadi.? ?The U.N. estimates between 400,000 and 500,000 in DRC are living with HIV/AIDS. There was a 1.3 percent prevalence among adults at the end of 2007, and recent studies suggest the prevalence may be increasing. More than 40,000 children are born with HIV/AIDS each year.