Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Chinese prostitutes shun condoms

BEIJING - MORE than half of Beijing's prostitutes do not use condoms despite sexual transmission having replaced drug use as the most common infection route for HIV, state media said on Tuesday.
Just 47 per cent of the 90,000 sex workers in China's capital used condoms, the official Xinhua news agency quoted Mr Fang Laiying, director of the municipal public health bureau, as saying.
Sexual transmission has also replaced intravenous drug use as the most common transmission route for the HIV virus for the first time in Beijing, accounting for 55 per cent of infections, the report said.But the infection rate among the city's prostitutes was unknown as Beijing does not provide a testing programme.
Free condoms are already provided in 22,000 venues in China's capital, including hotels and holiday resorts, and nearly 3,000 vending machines have been installed in entertainment sites, Xinhua said.
Condom machines are also to be installed at construction sites which employ more than 500 workers by the end of the year, the director was quoted as saying.
Beijing had reported 5,635 instances of people living with Aids or HIV by Nov 1 since the first case was reported in 1985, of which 75 per cent were from other regions in China, Xinhua said.
At the end of 2007, China had around 700,000 people living with HIV, including an estimated 85,000 who had developed Aids, according to Xinhua.
Campaigners have previously warned that the true figure could be up to 10 times higher.
Thousands were infected during the 1990s through tainted transfusions at illegal blood collection stations, but the focus of attention is now shifting to high risk groups such as gay men and sex.

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