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June 24, 2009

China Aims to Teach Sex Workers About HIV Prevention

In an effort to counter the spread of HIV, the Chinese government is conducting a long-term educational campaign to distribute information, dispel misconceptions and encourage condom use among the country’s general public and high-risk populations, such as sex workers, CNN reports.

“People think that they can avoid HIV infections by taking a pill,” said Bernhard Schwartlander, the UNAIDS coordinator for China. “People think that they are not at risk for HIV infections because they don't know anybody [who has it], because you can’t see it, you can’t touch it. And clearly, this is something that we have to change very rapidly.”

According to the article, though sex work is illegal in China, the industry has prospered. It is estimated that there are between 2 million and 4 million sex workers in the world’s most populated country. While one in 200 sex workers nationwide is believed to be HIV positive, in one part of the country’s southwestern Yunnan province, as many as 14 in every 200 sex workers have HIV, according to UNAIDS.

Hao Yang, deputy bureau chief of the Chinese Health Ministry’s Disease Prevention and Control Bureau, said that sex workers in remote and rural areas have played an important role in spreading HIV/AIDS because condom use among high-risk groups in those areas is less than 50 percent.

With an estimated 700,000 citizens living with the virus, China has about 50,000 new infections each year.

Search: China, sex workers, prevention, Yunnan

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