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MSF launches Safe Sex campaign in Mongolia

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Ulaanbaatar- Today, at World Aids Day, the international, medical relief organisation Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) launches a mass media campaign in Mongolia to promote the practice of safe sex in the fight against Aids. The "A condom - a healthy and wise choice"- campaign is part of the aids prevention program that MSF is implementing throughout Mongolia, in close co-operation with national health authorities and other organisations. Mongolia is one of the few countries in the world not yet heavily affected by an HIV/Aids epidemic.

So far, only two HIV cases have been reported in Mongolia. But the present HIV-epidemic in the two neighbouring countries, Russia and China, have alarmed Mongolian authorities. The more, since the number of sexual transmitted diseases (STDs) has increased dramatically (syphilis among pregnant women increased 5 times and gonorrhoea increased 60 times over the last 10 years) which indicates the increase of risky sexual behaviour in Mongolia (source: National STD/Aids Centre Mongolia, 1999). The Mongolian health authorities and the United Nations Program on Aids (UNAIDS), approached MSF for practical assistance in developing an effective HIV/STD prevention program.

The program in Mongolia consists of three components that aim to raise people's awareness and increase their knowledge by disseminating information to various target groups. A mass media campaign will address young Mongolians with the slogan "A condom - a healthy and wise choice!".

This first mass media campaign for Mongolia addresses the difficulty of discussing sexual health issues. The campaign wants to encourage young people to overcome this taboo and to take personal responsibility for getting informed and staying healthy. Also, MSF will set up an information centre about HIV/Aids and other sexually transmitted diseases in co-operation with the Russian non-governmental organisation AIDS Infoshare and Mongolian counterparts. Furthermore, the programme will provide training for health professionals regarding pre- and post HIV-test counselling and the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.

The "A condom - a healthy and wise choice" campaign will appear in Ulaanbaatar and other urban areas in Mongolia starting 1 December 1999. The campaign consists of three 30-second video commercials, a radio commercial, outdoor advertisement and an information leaflet/calendar as well as specific events. The campaign will serve as a model for future MSF activities in the field of prevention.