UNODC Iran Honours Outstanding Press Works on HIV/AIDS at the First Press Festival
The Press plays a significant role in the distribution of information, facts, and opinions on every subject, and HIV/AIDS is not an exception. Many people get their information through newspapers, magazines, the internet, TV, and Radio stations. It is a firm belief of UNODC Iran that whatever we do in the area of HIV/AIDS will not have an influential impact on the general population, unless the media reflects it properly.
One of the most important issues in the area of HIV/AIDS is the subject of stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS, a reality with a harsh impact on the quality of life of the individuals living with, and affected by, HIV. It has been a serious impediment to the control of the epidemic and a major obstacle to the relevant prevention, treatment and care programmes. Reducing stigma and discrimination, therefore, has been the highest goal of the World AIDS Day activities organized by UNODC Iran every year.
Among the activities of the Office on the occasion of World AIDS Day 2013 was the first "Press Festival on HIV/AIDS in the Islamic Republic of Iran", which aimed to recognize the distinguished works of people active in the Press on the subject of HIV/AIDS, and to encourage initiative for more work and coverage on this subject, which for various reasons has not been addressed adequately in the past years.
In the course of this activity, a call for papers was sent out to collect published works in the four areas of editorials, news, articles and interviews. In the first phase, more than 1,200 works were gathered and shortlisted by a group of journalists. Next, the works were studied closely by a jury consisting of three expert journalists and university professors in the field of Press, namely Dr. Mohammad Mehdi Forghani, Mr. Ali Akbar Ghazi Zadehin and Mr. Fereydoon Seddighi. They were also considered from the angle of stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS by two other specialized referees, namely Dr. Setareh Mohsenifar, UNODC HIV/AIDS Advisor, and Dr. Fardad Doroudi, UNAIDS Country Coordinator in Iran. The process culminated in the selection 12 winning works, 3 in each of the four above-mentioned categories.
The award-giving ceremony was held on 1 December 2013, with the participation of the Representative of UNODC in Iran, Mr. Leik Boonwaat, and the UN Resident Coordinator, Mr. Gary Lewis. The authors of the selected works were presented with trophies designed in shape of the Red Ribbon, which is the universal symbol of awareness and support for those living with HIV. The UNODC Representative expressed deep appreciation for the encouraging response from the Press and hope that small steps such as this event will help decrease stigma and discrimination against people who are living with HIV, with the help of the Press which can give substantial support to this cause by providing society with appropriate knowledge and information. "It is fear and ignorance that are the basis for discrimination. The press can play an important role in overcoming this," he concluded. The Resident Coordinator also addressed the participants, expressing his happiness with the event and the UN's gratitude for the good cooperation displayed by the Iranian Government in the area of HIV/AIDS.
The Press Festival was one of three activities which were organized by UNODC Iran to commemorate World AIDS Day 2013, in cooperation with the Drug Control Headquarters of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The other two activities included a Kites and Red Ribbons Festival at a major park in Tehran, and the "Yellow Taxis and Red Ribbons", which aimed to address the general public through the taxi drivers who are in direct contact with people every day, in order to raise their level of knowledge on the issue of HIV/AIDS, and the related stigma and discrimination.