Beijing promotes AIDS awareness amongst Olympians

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Beijing, Aug 16 (UNI) In a bid to promote awareness amongst the Olympians about AIDS, free condoms and its prevention pamphlets were distributed throughout the Olympic Village and hundreds of hotels here.

In a press conference entitled ''The 29th Olympics and AIDS Prevention - the Flapping Red Ribbon,'' head of the municipal health bureau Jin Dapeng said more than 400,000 condoms and some 250,000 copies of the pamphlet have been placed in hotel rooms across the city.

While the condoms were distributed in the city, a quarter of the them (100,000,) were allocated to the Olympic Village, Dapeng said.

AIDS awareness programme have become a regular affair in the Olympics since the 1992 Winter Games in Albertville, France.

China's senior advisor to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Wiwat Rojanapithayakorn, who was also present at the press conference, praised the effort and added that the campaign should be followed in future by the host nations.

''The Chinese government has made significant efforts to promote AIDS awareness on a global scale and has staged many good campaigns.

''It is a practice that I hope will be followed by future Olympic host cities,'' Wiwat said in his speech yesterday.

Netherlands' 33-year-old baseball player Jeroen Sluijter was impressed with the idea of issuing free condoms in the Olympic Village.

''You've got 16,000 athletes in the village and it's very likely some boys will like some girls and there will be sex going on,'' he said.

''If there are free condoms around, people are more likely to use them,'' he said.

Several other international AIDS organisations also attended yesterday's press conference, including the Joint UN Program on HIV/AIDS, UNICEF, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the International HIV/AIDS Alliance.

''More than 43 per cent of all new reported cases are attributed to people having unprotected sex,'' he said.

Dapeng, who is also the BOCOG's medical support group, added that ''The campaign is part of Beijing's efforts to stage a people's Olympics, and to increase public awareness and reduce the incidence of AIDS in the capital.'' UNI HSB RAR PK KP1557

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