Tuning in to citizen’s conversations about HIV/AIDS

More public and less experts: how do we re-connect the work of journalists with the work of citizens?

– by Marietjie Myburg –

For the last 10 years I have been working in the field of HIV and AIDS Communication. During this time, I have watched in frustration what should have been a conversation between citizens and people with power to change things (policy makers, planners), but was actually a conversation between the well-intentioned funders and (often opportunistic) politicians and bureaucrats.

I have watched how, instead of challenging the course of this conversation, journalists become the channels for UNAIDS, USAID and Bill and Melinda Gates to talk to and on behalf of citizens to Departments of Health and AIDS Councils and Presidents and celebrities with an attitude which Donaldo Macedo aptly describes in his foreword to Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of Freedom: “There is no need to hear your voice when I can talk about you better than you can speak about yourself (Freire, 2001:xxvi)”.

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