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Tuesday, 24 March 1987
Page: 1199


Senator ZAKHAROV —Is the Minister representing the Minister for Health aware of current discussion in the media concerning measures necessary for preventing the spread of acquired immune deficiency syndrome? Can he inform the Senate of the direction of the Government's planned educational campaign?


Senator TATE —A public awareness campaign is to be launched by the National Advisory Committee on AIDS on 5 April. Recent media reports have indicated that the Australian campaign will focus on condoms, presumably because many overseas campaigns have been portrayed here as promoting condoms. The Australian campaign will, of course, mention condoms. It would be irresponsible and unrealistic not to do so when condoms are the best protective device available to those who, for whatever reason, do not practice abstinence or have one safe sex partner. The campaign itself will, at least in its early stages, be directed more to bringing home to the general community that a killer virus is in our midst and that several steps can be taken to avoid the transmission of that virus.

The central theme of the campaign will be that people need to be aware of what constitutes risk behaviour and to avoid it. If they are to have sexual relations-and that is the first hurdle-then it is desirable that those relations be had with one safe sex partner. If not, only then will they be encouraged to make use of condoms. It is also important to remember that this campaign is only one part of the Government's response to the problem of AIDS. The public awareness campaign will be backed up by grants to community organisations to assist them in educating people at the local level. I should remind honourable senators that AIDS presents a serious threat to the health of this nation, and it is the responsibility of governments to support measures which alert all Australians to this fact.