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Russian Media Partnership to Combat HIV/AIDS Announces $26 Million in Media Commitments for Year One, Issues Challenge to Partners to Join the Effort

Embargoed for release until:
July 13, 2004

For further information contact:
Stephen Massey
Vice President for Programs Program Associate
Transatlantic Partners Against AIDS
Tel: +1 (212) 228.8940
Bangkok Mobile: 250.0419
Email: smassey@tpaa.net

Natalya Katsap
Vice President for Programs Program Associate
TPAA/Moscow Tel: +7 (095) 956.0578
Bangkok Mobile: 250.0426
Email: nkatsap@tpaa.net

Russian Media Partnership to Combat HIV/AIDS
Announces $26 Million in Media Commitments for Year One
Issues Challenge to Partners to Join the Effort

BANGKOK, Tuesday, July 13, 2004 – A group of leading Russian media companies – including Gazprom-Media, Prof-Media, and ROL (Russia Online) – announced today the official launch of the Russian Media Partnership to Combat HIV/AIDS (RMP) and committed over $26 million in free commercial advertising space for the first year of the campaign. This unprecedented national HIV/AIDS public awareness campaign will deliver public service messages and mainstream HIV/AIDS coverage through a coordinated cross-platform cross-market PSA campaign; HIV/AIDS news, analytical and entertainment programming; specialized training for journalists; special events; and free access to informational resources. The Partnership is coordinated by Transatlantic Partners Against AIDS (TPAA) in close collaboration with the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, Viacom – through its KNOW HIV/AIDS campaign, – and UNAIDS in the context of the Global Media AIDS Initiative.

Utilizing a wide variety of communication channels – television, radio, print, internet, consumer products and outdoor advertising – the multi-year campaign seeks to improve awareness of HIV/AIDS among the Russian population, increase understanding of effective prevention strategies and safe behaviors, and shape more tolerant attitudes toward people living with HIV/AIDS. RPM announced today that the total commercial value of advertising committed for Year One of the campaign exceeds $26 million, and issued a challenge to Russian and international partners to commit over $200 million in free advertising space over three years.

“Gazprom-Media recognizes the serious threat posed by HIV/AIDS to the future of the Russia, and are committed to leveraging our media resources to help slow the spread of the epidemic and tackle stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS,” said Alexander Dybal, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Gazprom-Media – the largest private media holding in Russia. “On behalf of all Gazprom-Media holdings, I am very proud to be joined in this effort by our Russian partners – Prof-Media, ROL and others — as well as Viacom, the Kaiser Family Foundation and UNAIDS. Most of all, I would like to highlight the leadership of Transatlantic Partners Against AIDS, who managed to bring together competing companies and competing interests in one common effort to battle HIV/AIDS.” Alexander Dybal was among 22 global media leaders who participated in the historic first meeting of the Global Media AIDS Initiative, convened in New York by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan in January 2004.

“Russia has the unique opportunity to prevent an explosion of HIV within its borders and in its region. The spread of HIV is like a tsunami, and once you can see a tsunami, it is already too late to react,” said Cliff Gauntlett, Managing Director of Russia Online and Vice President of Golden Telecom. “As representatives of mass media, it is our duty to educate our viewers, listeners and readers about HIV, and give them the information they need to protect themselves and loved ones while also being aware of how to help others already affected by the virus.”

“We have been incredibly encouraged by the leadership demonstrated by the company-members of the Russian Media Partnership to Combat HIV/AIDS,” underscored John Tedstrom, President and CEO, Transatlantic Partners Against AIDS. “They are true heroes in the fight against AIDS in Russia and their stepping up to the plate on this issue sends a powerful and far-reaching signal that Russia’s political and economic leadership is ready to actively address the epidemic. I would like to thank our international partners – the Kaiser Family Foundation, Viacom, UNAIDS and others – who have inspired this effort and provided invaluable support and guidance. This is a truly incredible effort in its scope and reach and TPAA is privileged to be part of it.”

“The media is uniquely positioned to break the silence that surrounds HIV/AIDS and to help mobilize society against the epidemic,” said Drew Altman, Ph. D., President and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation. “The Russian Media Partnership is especially promising because Gazprom-Media and Transatlantic Partners Against AIDS are partnering with other leading media companies to ensure that the HIV/AIDS messages will reach Russian audiences in multiple and reinforcing ways.”

“UNAIDS is pleased to be a part of this unique effort. The commitments made by the Russian Media Partnership today are one of the most important collective contributions to the fight against AIDS in Russia and its region to date,” said Bertil Lindblad, UNAIDS representative in Russia. “By harnessing its unparalleled ability to communicate with millions of people, media can become an essential vehicle for spreading out vital and reliable information on AIDS that will save millions of lives.”

Background: Russia has emerged as a new epicenter in the global HIV/AIDS pandemic, registering one of the world’s highest rates of new infections. Independent local and international experts estimate that between 700,000 and 1.5 million Russians may be infected, representing between 1 and 2 percent of its adult population. If current trends persist, epidemiologists warn that up to 8 million Russians could be infected within a decade, reflecting an adult prevalence rate of approximately 10 percent. At present, the epidemic is growing fastest among the general (non-drug using, heterosexual) population aged 15-30. Misinformation leads to lack of understanding of the disease and methods of prevention as well to stigma and discrimination that block public discussion of the epidemic and the emergence of a national response to HIV/AIDS.