China's Migrant Workers at High AIDS Risk: Expert
June 9, 2005
Today in Hong Kong, Wan Shao Pin, a doctor and project officer with the China-UK HIV/AIDS Prevention and Care Project in southwestern Sichuan province, told a health seminar that China faces a surge in HIV/AIDS unless it curbs the epidemic's spread among the country's transient rural workforce. Wan said there are at least 100 million such workers in China, and poorly educated migrant workers engage in highly risky sexual practices.
"According to surveys," Wan said, "10 percent to 48 percent of males in this floating population exhibit highly risky sexual behavior," adding that they often visit prostitutes. "And in this risky group of males," he noted, "70 percent have never used condoms." Wan said most were unaware of the dangers of HIV/AIDS.
Women, who often resort to sex work when they cannot find other employment, may spread the virus, which the men then take all over the country, Wan explained. "So their threat to China's HIV/AIDS problem is huge," he said.
Recently, the Chinese government has sent teams of counselors to villages across the country to teach safe sex. Wan said that was not enough; more effort must be put into educating migrant workers.
"The Chinese government is now putting a lot of attention on HIV/AIDS but we have to focus on the most risky group, this floating population," Wan commented.
06.09.2005; Tan Ee Lyn
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