Every six seconds, someone in the world contracts HIV. Every ten seconds, someone dies of AIDS-related complications. Although the disease does not command the same public interest as 20 years ago, the virus continues to spread seemingly unabated, particularly in the countries of Africa and Asia. To intensify the fight against AIDS, Bayer has joined the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, a worldwide initiative that is now supported by 180 companies.
In China, the government has made the fight against AIDS part of its political agenda and invited companies to cooperate in these efforts. Bayer has joined this initiative in the world's most populous country and established a series of support projects focusing on preventive measures and nondiscrimination.
In order for the risk of HIV/AIDS to be lastingly anchored in the consciousness of the Chinese population, this theme must be professionally conveyed by the media. Bayer is therefore breaking new ground: in 2003 the company established a course in study for health care reporting at Tsinghua University in Beijing - the "Tsinghua-Bayer Public Health and HIV/AIDS Media Studies Program." Here journalists learn about the medical and social aspects of the disease and are taught the importance of a responsible public approach to AIDS.
As another step towards encouraging social responsibility among journalists and setting an example for responsible media coverage of HIV/AIDS in China, Tsinghua University and Bayer jointly launched the Tsinghua-Bayer Media Award for Responsible Public Health Coverage in August 2006 to recognize journalists who have produced outstanding reports on HIV/AIDS.
The Tsinghua-Bayer cooperation also extended its reach to the international front, involving parties such as high-level Chinese government officials, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the National Press Foundation (NPF), and the China AIDS Roadmap Tactical Support (CHARTS) Project. A group of 40 journalists from the Tsinghua-Bayer program represented China at the international Journalist-to-Journalist Training on HIV/AIDS as well as at the AIDS 2006 – XVI International AIDS Conference in Toronto.
The Tsinghua-Bayer program had successfully trained about one thousand media professionals and government officials by the end of 2007, and has contributed significantly to the increase in objective reporting on HIV/AIDS and other communicable diseases in the Chinese media, thereby helping to increase awareness of prevention and reduce stigmatization and discrimination.