According to statistics from UNAIDS, at the end of 2010, an estimated 34 million were living with HIV/AIDS worldwide. While the number of new infections continues to fall, the global incidence of the disease remains daunting.
As part of the fight, mobile and migrant workers on major transport and infrastructure projects are an important group to consider when controlling the spread of HIV/AIDS.
In Mongolia alone, more than 2,000 kilometers of road construction and rapid development of regional roads are expected in the next few years. There are over 16,000 people employed in mining companies while more are engaged in informal mining activities.
Tackling the issue
While only a small number of people in Mongolia are infected with HIV/AIDS, ADB and the Government are not taking any chances. In road projects, HIV/AIDS prevention clauses are included in the bidding and contracting documents for prospective contractors. And since 2009, ADB has engaged civil society organizations to help prevent the spread of the disease, as well as include awareness-raising activities.
The Mongolian Employers' Federation (MONEF) and the Independent Research Institute of Mongolia (IRIM) have helped design and test HIV prevention activities in five areas of three mining companies, and on two ADB road projects.
"Each mining company now has STI/HIV/AIDS prevention policy adopted in their workplaces and have successfully inserted it in their management systems", said Khuyag Ganbaatar, Executive Director of MONEF.
Working with communities
IRIM surveyed local communities about their knowledge and behavior on HIV/AIDS. The results helped them design a communication program including print materials and DVDs to increase people's awareness and change their behavior to prevent the disease.
Condoms are also being distributed in vending machines installed in public places and are regularly refilled.
Mongolian agencies have already expressed appreciation and willingness to support such initiatives - an important step in making HIV/AIDS prevention activities institutionalized.
"ADB is also pushing for the amendment of the AIDS law to include HIV prevention in the workplace. This will facilitate government budget allocation for HIV prevention activities to curb an impending epidemic in Mongolia," said Claude Bodart, ADB Principal Health Specialist.
ADB has been supporting HIV/AIDS projects since 1993. The technical assistance on HIV/AIDS Prevention in ADB Infrastructure Projects and the Mining Sector for Mongolia amounts to $1 million and is expected to be completed in April 2013.