Mongolia is an inland country whose population is 2,500,000 where many people live a nomadic life (see also Bille’s and Carlson’s chapters in this volume). The have only been five reported cases ofHIV/AIDS since 1992 and three of them are still alive. UNAIDS estimates that the number of people infected with HIV was less than 300 in 2004. Therefore the rate of HIV infection may be seen to be less than 0.02 per cent of the population. With this low rate of infection, awareness of HIV/AIDS is limited, and the number of people who take HIV tests is still low. In 2003 just 41,636 people undertook testing for HIV. This is also because of budget limitations for HIV testing. By law, pregnant women are supposed to be tested but only 60 per cent actually do get tested.
Although in Mongolia the infection rate is still considered low, there is potential vulnerability to a future epidemic. The number of sex workers and brothels is increasing and the rate of condom use among sex workers remains less than 10 per cent. Intravenous drug use is also an issue. Mongolia is geographically located between Russia and China — two countries which have seen increases in infection rates — and there is increasing cross-border movement. Mongolians go to Russia to work and Chinese come to work in Mongolia. There is also the problem that after the collapse of the socialist regime local health services are not working well.