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National campaign tackles high HIV rate in Georgia

The number of people to be tested for HIV in the former Soviet Union country of Georgia has rocketed following Brunel research that led to the first ever national campaign into the disease.

Professor of psychology Robin Goodwin led the research project into promoting sexual health in the country after being awarded two grants from the Soros Foundation and the European Union to fund the first systematic study of the representations and values predicting high risk sexual behaviour and drug use in Central and Eastern Europe,

The project was one of a series commissioned by the two funding bodies in order to address a dramatic rise in HIV infection in the former Soviet Union, in the decade following the fall of communism.

The study found that children in Georgia were the most ignorant about the risks associated with drug use and unprotected sex among the countries that were focused on, and were also the more active in both areas.

There followed a national television and online campaign in the Georgian Republic, which would lead to more than 35,000 video downloads and a book aimed at adolescents being distributed to more than 98 schools across the country.

Prof Goodwin was then named as a consultant on two further studies gathering national data on sexual risk taking among 2,880 Georgian schoolchildren.

The campaign materials are currently part of the school curriculum in several regions of the country, while the National Resource Centre (Ministry of Education) fully supports their use in schools. Elsewhere, the film and book are recommended reading for trainee nurses in Georgia.

The research and its impact was peer reviewed by the British Psychological Society Impact Peer Review Panel and selected as a "clear illustration of the extremely high quality contributions that psychological research is able to make".