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International News
Men Who Have Sex With Men in Shenzhen, China, Rarely Use Condoms to Prevent Spread of HIV

May 24, 2005

Only 20% of men who have sex with men in Shenzhen, China, use condoms each time they have sex, according to a survey conducted by the Shenzhen Disease Prevention and Control Centre, the South China Morning Post reports. Shenzhen -- a town in Southern China -- is a popular place for MSM because of its location near the border of Hong Kong, strong job market and "relatively tolerant attitude toward" homosexuality, according to the Morning Post. In the survey of 220 MSM in Shenzhen, 33% of respondents said that they "never or seldom" use condoms, 61% said they engage in anal sex, 7% said they engage in oral sex and 74% said they have had sex with strangers. To fight the spread of HIV, health officials have placed posters in some areas of the city to promote condom use. "The use of condoms has increased dramatically in those (areas) where intervention measures have been taken," Cai Wende of the Shenzhen DPCC said, adding, "But we are facing difficulties in enlarging these pilot programs, even though they have proved to be very efficient." The survey also showed that the low percentage of condom use among MSM might pose a threat to women because about half of the MSM surveyed said they sometimes have sex with women, according to the Morning Post (Cui, South China Morning Post, 5/23).

HIV Prevalence Among Male Sex Workers
A separate DPCC survey of 116 male commercial sex workers in Shenzhen showed that 5.17% of the respondents were HIV-positive, a rate nearly four times the HIV prevalence among MSM nationwide, according to the Morning Post. "The prevalence will get out of control unless immediate preventative measures are taken," Cai said, noting that there are more male commercial sex workers in Shenzhen than in Hong Kong and some people travel to Shenzhen to find male commercial sex workers. "People from Hong Kong can spread the epidemic, but we lack the necessary finances and personnel to monitor them," he added (South China Morning Post, 5/23). MSM account for 11% of mainland China's HIV-positive population (Cui, South China Morning Post, 5/23). The Chinese government estimates that there are 840,000 HIV-positive people in the country and that 80,000 of those people have AIDS. However, international experts and advocates say that the actual number of HIV-positive people in China probably is between one million and 1.5 million (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/19).

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