"Princess Chi" Dispels HIV Myths on Air in Nigeria

Accurate information on HIV/AIDS is vital in Nigeria, where an estimated 2.6 million people are infected with the virus, according to UNAIDS. But misinformation and stigma about the virus abound 

Uzomba Chinyere Joy interviews a student about voluntary counseling and testing. (credit: Gboyega Sotunde/Internews) 

Uzomba Chinyere Joy interviews a student about voluntary counseling and testing. (credit: Gboyega Sotunde/Internews) 

A radio talk show host at HOT-FM in Abuja devoted a recent program to dispelling myths about AIDS, such as the belief that women can use lime juice after sex to protect themselves from getting AIDS.

Uzomba Chinyere Joy, who is known to her listeners as “Princess Chi,” hosts two talk shows, one on emotional issues, Evening Showers, and a health program called Healthy Living.

Chinyere just won a scholarship from the Kaiser Foundation to attend the 2008 International AIDS conference in Mexico City this month. Kaiser had also selected her as one of the finalists for the July CNN Africa journalist awards, sending her on an all-expenses paid trip to Accra, Ghana for a one-week seminar.

But Chinyere, who learned to report on HIV/AIDS through Internews’ Local Voices program, gets her biggest rewards from her listeners. She was moved to tears when a listener, who had heard her story about visiting VCT (voluntary counseling and testing) centers and was moved to go get tested, called the station to thank her.

Chinyere stumbled into journalism by chance after studying chemical engineering at university. A family friend told Chinyere about an opening at HOT-FM in Abuja. She decided to give it a try.

Nigeria’s National Broadcasting Commission required the station to produce more programs, so Internews stepped in to help improve the production skills of the station’s reporters. Chinyere was a star trainee, winning a mini-disc recorder and a travel grant to the central Nigerian city of Jos, as well as the Internews journalist of the month award.

After she produced a reproductive health story on uterine fibroids, HOT-FM was so impressed, they started airing her Healthy Living program twice a week instead of once. Chinyere says that reporting did not come easy to her.

“I had to learn how to talk slower. I had to learn the skills of a good reporter; I am still learning. I do not really know how I got here from being a graduate of chemical engineering to a journalist whose reports are winning free trips to different parts of the world. I owe all these to Internews. This is just the beginning for me. I am more determined than ever before to do more.”

Banner photo: A journalist in Nigeria interviews a young girl about how AIDS has affected her family. (credit: Internews)