Migrant workers equipped with knowledge on AIDS

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AIDS prevention among millions of migrant workers faces a severe challenge, as the country struggles to bring new infections under control, a senior health official has warned.

"Migrant workers have little knowledge of disease prevention due to less education and inadequate health consciousness," said Hao Yang, deputy director of the Office of the State Council Working Committee for AIDS Prevention and Control.

Statistics from the Ministry of Health report that migrant workers accounted for 23.5 percent of all new HIV infections reported in the first half of 2010, an increase from 21.3 percent in 2009 and 19.5 percent in 2008.

By the end of 2009, more than 230 million migrant workers had left the countryside for cities in China.

According to estimates on HIV made in 2009 by the Ministry of Health, UNAIDS and the World Health Organization, there are approximately 740,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in China.

To address the grave challenge this presents, Hao's office, together with the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, launched a Red Ribbon Health Kit Program on Monday to promote knowledge about AIDS prevention among migrant workers.

Under the program, a total of 50,000 health kits, which include condoms and a pamphlet about AIDS prevention, will be given to migrant workers in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangdong and neighboring regions, where they are heavily concentrated.

"If you simply tell people the rising rate of the disease over the past few years, they will feel that such things will never happen to them," said Wu Rulian, an officer at the International Labour Organization, which had investigated the health of migrant workers.

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