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Tajik Reporter Wins Recognition for HIV Report

IWPR journalist’s feature on lives of people living with the virus takes second place in major media award.
By Saule Mukhametrakhimova

IWPR Tajik radio reporter Zarina Ergasheva was runner-up in an international media award for her coverage of HIV/AIDS-related issues in Central Asia.

The competition was organised by the East Europe & Central Asia Union of People Living With HIV/AIDS to coincide with the XVIII International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2010) under the theme Rights Here, Right Now. The results were announced on September 23.

Zarina, who shared second place with another Tajik journalist, was recognised for a radio report she did on the lives of people living with HIV: Children With HIV to Get Tajik State Benefit.

Since the award, Zarina has left IWPR to work as a correspondent for the leading news agency Asia Plus, but she continues to contribute to IWPR. 

She recalled what prompted her to do a radio report about the topic.

“This summer the health minister told a conference that  from 2011 HIV-positive children were going to receive state benefits,” she said, adding that the development made her want to find out more about people living with the virus and how they were coping.

She recalled the challenges of doing the report as she struggled to find an HIV-positive person who was willing to talk, “It was hard to persuade them to give an interview because they feared others would find out.”

In the end, Zarina’s persistence paid off and she managed to interview not one but two people.

“It was the only radio report on HIV/AIDS among the winning entries. And it was a challenge to cover the topic in a five-minute report,” said Zarina, who received a netbook as prize for coming second in the competition.

Zarina said it was a team effort and paid tribute to the support of IWPR’s radio editor in Tajikistan, Shahodat Saibnazarova.

“It’s great to see Zarina receive recognition for her work,” John MacLeod, Senior Editor at IWPR in London said. “She has consistently focused on the rights of marginalised groups in Tajikistan who don’t often get the chance to be heard.”

Saule Mukhametrakhimova is IWPR’s Central Asia editor. 

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