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TV campaign to promote safe sex
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Beginning on Thursday the Chinese government has launched a large-scale television public service announcement campaign, produced by Oscar-winners and featuring superstars such as Jackie Chan, to promote safe sex and combat HIV/AIDS.


   Jackie Chan                        Peng Liyuan


Next year hundreds of millions of members of the public will see the television campaign with the help of commercial media outlets and advertisement sector partners. The announcement will be shown on TVs at home, via China Central Television, as well as on the Internet, or on big screens at airports, train stations and on buses.


The public service announcements, called "Life is Too Good", features Jackie Chan, the renowned Chinese actor, Pu Cunxin and one of the most famous Chinese sopranos, Peng Liyuan.


Ruby Yang and Thomas Lennon, who together won the Best Documentary Oscar 2006, created the TV advertisements as an "ambitious AIDS awareness campaign". The pair cooperated with the Ministry of Health (MOH). The United Nation's Development Programme (UNDP) will distribute the announcement.


Lennon, producer of the public service announcement series, told reporters that, "Public discussion of condoms and safer sex is difficult; that's true in China, just as it is in every country around the world."


According to an earlier report on the country's AIDS situation released by the MOH, sex has now become the main channel for contracting the HIV virus.


The report said that among 50,000 cases of newly contracted HIV/AIDS in the past year, more than half contracted the virus through unsafe sex.


Chinese actor Pu Cunxin holds a condom while speaking about the role of celebrities in an AIDS awareness campaign during the "Life is Too Good" launch in Beijing December 6, 2007. China rolled out its first major television campaign on Thursday to promote condom use to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS.


Pu, who has made great contributions to the public campaign about AIDS control and prevention, said that condoms, a long-time taboo topic in China, were actually a kind of "scientific breakthrough" that has benefited mankind.


Hundreds of millions of migrant workers have no "normal family life" Pu told a reporter. "We should inform the public about the significance of condoms," he said.


Pu became a MOH publicity member for HIV/AIDS prevention and control in 2000. Since then he has used his fame and influence to participate in various HIV educational campaigns.


The ads show Pu's lyrical bicycle journey through a modern Chinese city passing several young lovers on the street, and leading folk singer Peng Liyuan congratulates young graduates who are celebrating their last day of high school. They remind people, "Condoms reduce risk. Please protect yourself."


The last act show action film master Jackie Chan preparing his cast and crew for a dangerous stunt -- a good movie needs danger, he explains, but in life, "we need to be safe", he told the people.


Though the rate of AIDS growth has slowed, the government has admitted the situation "remains grave". Official reports say there are estimated to be as many as 700,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in China, a country with a population of 1.3 billion.


Subinay Nandy, UNDP China Country Director, said that the public awareness campaign and multi-sector partnership demonstrates willingness in China to address HIV issues.


Participating media companies in the campaign include Air Media, Beijing CityTV Media, EPIN Media Holdings Ltd., Towona Mobile Media, and - China's largest online video-sharing site.


Over 1.5 million visitors have already viewed the ads on the website since their debut on Nov. 30, according to the website operator. The website has over 20 million registered users aged between 18 and 30.


By donating airtime on their video advertisement platforms worth over US$1.5 million, hundreds of millions of people are expected to view the ads every month over the next year.


They also produced two AIDS campaigns on Chinese television, featuring Yao Ming and Magic Johnson (2004) and Peng Liyuan (2006).


(Xinhua News Agency December 7, 2007)

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