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University of Iowa News Release

Aug. 8, 2003

African Journalists Visit Iowa City To Learn About AIDS Education, Media

A large delegation of journalists and media representatives from west and central Africa will visit Iowa City Aug. 12-15 and will be hosted by the Council for International Visitors to Iowa Cities (CIVIC). The theme of their visit is "Humanizing HIV/AIDS Education and Treatment."

The goal of the program is to help the journalists learn about the ways in which media can contribute to efforts to prevent the spread of the HIV virus, according to Tom Baldridge, CIVIC executive director. They also hope to learn how to empower the infected and educate others to the reality of the disease, which has taken the lives of more than 17 million people in Africa.

The delegation is composed of a variety of media experts, including magazine editors, directors of governmental daily newspapers, program producers, senior lecturers of journalism schools, radio and television reporters and communication and marketing officials. The visitors come from the following countries: Benin, Cameroon, Chad, The Ivory Coast, and Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Mali, Rwanda and Togo.

During their visit to the Iowa City area, the group will meet with representatives from the Iowa City Press-Citizen and the Cedar Rapids Gazette to learn more about how journalists in the United States cover stories relating to HIV/AIDS. UI student groups will also provide information on their initiatives.

The group will visit the Midwest AIDS Training and Education Center (MATEC) and Iowa Center for AIDS Research and Education (ICARE), which provide considerable HIV/AIDS educational programs to the state of Iowa. Participants will meet with HIV/AIDS educators, health care professionals and social workers, who work in Iowa's communities.

Jeanne Bock, the Iowa coordinator for MATEC, said a team of medical professionals from the Iowa City area and the University of Iowa Health Care (UIHC) will spend time with the group on Wednesday, Aug. 13. During this time, the group will learn more about effective methods of education in their communities on prevention practices and methods to raise awareness of the disease.

Journalists in many countries face formidable obstacles in trying to effectively cover the pandemic, according to CIVIC officials. In many cases, challenges for journalists include: lack of access to accurate information, a reluctance of media managers to cover AIDS and limited resources for investigating health-related stories. The result of such obstacles can lead to superficial reporting and coverage that can be sensational or misleading, further building misconceptions and stigmatization of those infected with HIV/AIDS. Newspapers, radio and television programs have the potential and the power to influence perceptions by providing accurate information, and should be used more effectively toward the education and promotion of a greater understanding of the human aspect of the disease.

CIVIC is a community organization of volunteers "serving and hosting international visitors as a means to promote international understanding on a person-to-person basis," according to Baldridge. It is one of two such organizations in Iowa that accommodates the U.S. Information Agency's International Visitor Program. The other is in Des Moines.

CIVIC also is looking for volunteers to help arrange itineraries for visitors. For more information or a complete itinerary, call the CIVIC office at 319-335-0351 or Lois Gray, International Programs director of external relations, at 319-335-2026. The CIVIC office is in Room 38 of the UI's International Center, located at the south end of Ferson Avenue off of Park Road.

CIVIC is part of UI International Programs, which consist of a number of offices, centers, degree programs, academic programs, research projects and services. Organized under the associate provost for academic programs and dean for International Programs, these units serve to further internationalize the campus and community and promote global scholarship, research and teaching.

Following is a list of the visitors and the countries and organizations or media outlets that they represent:

France: Juliette Bastin, health editor, Jeune Afrique lintelligent Weekly Magazine;

Benin: Reine Mathilde AZIFAN, Journalist / Head Health Division of Government Daily, La Nation;

Benin: Sylvain Pascal Codjo ZOUNTCHEME, President, Reseau Beninois des Journaliste Pour La Lutte Contre le SIDA;

Cameroon: Guichi N.N.K. MARIE-NOELLE, Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Le Mesagger Newspaper

Chad: Zara MAHAMAT YACOUB, Director General, Sud Cap Productions;

Ivory Coast: Elisa Yayoua VAHA, Head, Society Section (Kherf De Service Societe), Le Patriote

Democratic Republic of Congo: Tombe Dieudonne KABIENA, Senior Lecturer, School of Journalism

Guinea: Camara BANGALY, Head of Communications and Marketing, Foundation for International Solidarity (FONDIS)

Mali: Lassana DOUMBIA, Journalist-radio Kene;

Mali: Tenimba MONIKATA, Journalist-reporter, Office de La Radio Television du Mali

Rwanda: Narcisse KALISA, Executive Producer, Health Unlimited;

Togo: Kossi WOUSSOU, Chief Editor, Radio Nana Fm;

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Lois Gray, 319-335-2026, lois-gray@uiowa.edu