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Getting media coverage and wider involvement in your actions can help spread awareness of the problems facing children living with HIV and bring additional pressure to governments and pharmaceutical companies to act.

When you approach the media you’ll be competing with all the other stories going on that week. Discuss with the young people ideas to make your story stand out. How about putting on an event to launch your letter-writing activities? The Keep the Promise teaching resource on advocacy and HIV and AIDS also gives good tips for gaining media coverage. Here are a couple of ideas to get you started:

  • Invite a political figure from your Ministry of Health to your school or church. Arrange a question and answer session or a presentation from your class or school. Invite parents and key figures from the community – as well as local media.
  • Put on an event in your school, local church or community hall to raise awareness of issues surrounding access to HIV medicines for children. You could run a talent contest, a car wash, a sponsored walk/silence/sing, write stories on the issue, perform public readings…anything to raise awareness.
  • How about taking your letters yourself to your Ministry of Health and presenting them to him or her? Contact their secretary well in advance to arrange this. And don’t forget to give the media plenty of notice too.
  • Write a giant letter as a publicity stunt and get people to sign the bottom of it - including a local celebrity or two.
  • Send one of the student’s letters to the local newspaper and ask them to print it as an “open letter” to your Ministry of Health, explaining what your class is doing and why.

Approaching the Media

Whatever you do, and even if you simply let your local media know about your letter-writing, you’ll need to write to them – by post or email. The best way to do this is in the form of a press release. Call your local newspaper/radio station first and find out to whom you address press releases. Give some key facts about the issue and include a quote from a young person about why they are writing the letters. Newspapers can then use this quote in any stories they run. Also, give contact details of a key person in your school/group who will be acting as spokesperson to the media. Follow your press release up with a phone call a few days later to check that the press release has been received and to see if the story will be covered.

Sample press release



Concerned young people are putting pen to paper for an important cause in the run up to this year’s World AIDS Day. Students from Eagle School are writing to Care Pharmaceuticals and the Ministry of Health to ask them to do more to ensure children living with HIV receive the treatment they need.

The students’ letters will join many others on display at the United Nations to mark the 20th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which will celebrated on Universal Children’s Day (20 November 2009).

2.1 million children around the world currently live with HIV. Very few tests have been developed to detect whether babies have HIV, and not enough medicines are available for the needs of children living with HIV. As a result, only about 15 percent of HIV-positive children get the treatment they need. In 2007, around 900 children died of AIDS related illnesses every day.

To launch the letter-writing campaign, students from Eagle School have created a display about children living with HIV around the world. The gallery in Lower Road, Hampton will be open to the public from 1 June. Visitors will be encouraged to sign a giant letter to Care Pharmaceuticals and Health Minister Smith, showing public support for treatment for HIV-positive children.

‘2009 marks twenty years since adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child,’ says John Brown, a student at the school. ‘We think that providing treatment for children living with HIV so that they can go to school, play with their friends and live normal lives is a good way to celebrate that.’

There will be a media day at the gallery on 30 May when there will be opportunities for photographs and interviews with pupils.

Further information can be obtained from
[name and contact details of person appointed to deal with the media].



Prescription for Life Resource Guide
Keep the Promise Resource