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BBC World Service's first education HIV/Aids campaign

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LONDON: The BBC World Service Trust, the charitable arm of the BBC, in partnership with the Kaiser Family Foundation, a leader in health information and research, and media conglomerate Viacom, have, announced the launch of a year-long campaign. The aim is to combat the spread of HIV/Aids in Africa and the Caribbean and the campaign will commnece later this year.

This partnership will initiate the BBC World Service's first-ever public education campaign tackling HIV/Aids in these two regions. Public education programmes and services produced under the partnership will be made available rights-free to other broadcasters. This collaboration builds on the success of the Viacom and Kaiser Family Foundation's KNOW HIV/Aids campaign, which launched in the US this January.

The BBC World Service will begin broadcasts in October produced by seven BBC African language services - English for Africa, French for Africa, Portuguese for Africa, Hausa, Somali, Swahili and Kinyanwanda/Kirundi; as well as the BBC Caribbean service.

Short educational spots will be broadcast three times per day at peak listening hours. A five-minute special call-in segment will also be produced as part of the weekly English-language programme Postmark Africa. The reach of the World Service in Africa and the Caribbean, is as high as 30 per cent of the radio audience in certain countries.

A variety of longer format programmes will also be dedicated to HIV/Aids during the period of the campaign. The BBC World Service Trust, the Kaiser Family Foundation and Viacom will work jointly to explore opportunities for the production of extended format programming.

BBC World Service Trust director of health Roy Head said: "What's exciting about this initiative is that major broadcasters are joining forces to take on Aids. The BBC reaches 50 million people in sub-Saharan Africa, and coupled with Viacom's huge audiences across the US and Europe we can make a real difference. And if other big media players can follow suit, so much the better.'

An official release informs that Africa, particularly sub-Saharan Africa, has the highest HIV/Aids prevalence rate of any region in the world. Nearly 30 million or 70 per cent of all those with the disease live in sub-Saharan Africa, with more new infections and AIDS deaths in 2002 than any other part of the world. The Caribbean has also been severely impacted and is the second-most affected region.

According to a recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation the KNOW HIV/Aids campaign already has high visibility among Americans over 18. 44 per cent recognise the brand or have seen one of the messages, including higher percentages among target populations.

KNOW HIV/Aids campaign is a global media campaign that combats the menace through public service messages (PSAs), television and radio programming, and free print and online content. The multi-year effort combines the public health expertise of the Kaiser Family Foundation with the power of Viacom's media brands and unmatched audience relationships to foster awareness of the disease and its prevention.

For the first year, Viacom committed in excess of $120 million in advertising across its television, radio and billboards in the US and around the world toward the initiative. Support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is helping to seed the international expansion of this initiative the release states.

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