China’s Olympic effort to raise AIDS awareness
12 September 2006
In 2008, top athletes from around the world will gather in China to attempt to run, jump, swim and pole-vault themselves into the records book at the XXIX Olympic Games. And as China warms up to host the games, building of stadiums and amenities across the country, a parallel initiative is taking place to raise awareness about HIV among the thousands of construction workers involved in preparing Beijing for the Olympics.
More than 200 workers gathered at one such awareness raising activity held recently at a construction site in Beijing. Through exhibitions and the distribution of AIDS-related pamphlets, posters, playing cards and condoms, workers were able to find out information about HIV and how to protect themselves and others. A special question and answer session, informative entertainment and other awareness raising activities were conducted.
Organized by the China AIDS/STD Prevention and Control Foundation and the Beijing Health Bureau, the event involved special presentations by UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot, the Beijing Construction Commission, a worker on one of the sites and the China AIDS Prevention Foundation.
“Targeting workers involved in the construction of Olympic venues as well as workers at the many other building sites all over China is an extremely important and big task. Migrant workers are often particularly vulnerable and at risk as they are away from their families for very long periods of time and can lack the information and skills necessary to protect themselves from HIV,” said Mr. Joel Rehnstrom, UNAIDS Country Coordinator in China.
The initiative for raising awareness among migrant workers was launched in 2005 by the State Council AIDS Working Committee office together with 12 government ministries. The initiative is being rolled out over 20 Olympic sites over the next six months. With many construction workers coming from different parts of China specifically to build the facilities, the events aim to reach out to as many people as possible from a wide variety of communities and backgrounds and to highlight sport as a key arena for promoting HIV prevention activities, particularly among young people.
In 2004, UNAIDS signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the International Olympics Committee, combining efforts to enhance the role of sports organisations in the fight against AIDS at community and national levels, and to organize AIDS awareness activities with coaches, athletes and sports personalities.