China Promotes Condom Use Among Sex Workers to Curb HIV/AIDS
November 28, 2006
For the past eight months, health workers in Guangdong province have been visiting entertainment venues in the capital city of Guangzhou promoting condom use by sex workers.
"It's difficult talking to sex workers and it's even tougher to get them to sit down and listen to AIDS prevention training," said Xu Huifang, one of 180 municipal task force members working on the prevention initiative. "We were not welcomed in the beginning, but we tried hard to get close to them and things got better." "We use their jargons in training to make the communication easier. Sometimes we invited them for dinner." The health workers have even sought support from managers or bosses of the entertainment clubs, who in turn helped persuade sex workers to participate in the initiative.
To date, more than 30 free HIV/AIDS prevention training sessions have been held with more than 1,000 sex workers. The task force has distributed more than 30,000 free condoms in the city.
According to surveys, only 38.7 percent of sex workers use condoms. Hao Yang, deputy director of the Ministry of Health's Bureau of Disease Control, said the HIV infection rate among sex workers has risen from 0.02 percent in 1996 to 1 percent in 2005.
China is working with the World Health Organization to launch 100 percent condom use programs in Hubei, Yunnan, Hainan, Jiangsu and Gansu provinces and Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Dr. Wiwat Rojanapithayakom, HIV/AIDS team leader in WHO's Beijing office, said promoting condoms in entertainment districts could help curb the spread of HIV.
Xinhua News Agency