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Program to monitor sexually transmitted diseases
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More than 20,000 sufferers of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) will take part in a two-year program that will provide them free medical care and also help officials monitor the incidence rate in Guangdong province.

Officials from the Center for Skin Disease and STD Control, which is running the program, said the initiative could eventually help decrease the transmission rate of HIV/AIDS and other STDs.

People with STDs, including prostitutes, homosexuals and other sufferers, will be offered free examinations, treatment and education under the program, which started yesterday.

The center also recently sent some doctors to conduct free health checks for rural women in Jiangmen.

More than 100,000 people are reported to have STDs in Guangdong province. The number is increasing by 20 percent every year.

Guangdong ranks second behind Jiangsu as the province with the highest number of people with STDs, according to the Guangdong Center for Skin Disease and STD Control.

"Syphilis and gonorrhea are the two most prevalent STDs in Guangdong province so far," said Yang Bin, director of Guangdong center.

Some 3,142 people contracted syphilis last month and one of them died, according to a statement by Guangdong health department. Another 1,715 people were infected by gonorrhea last month.

The two STDs also are included in the five most prevalent epidemic diseases in Guangdong province.

"The incidence rate of the disease is very high in rural areas, due to lack of knowledge about STDs and limited treatment and prevention resources in those areas," Yang said.

The incidence rate of STDs among rural women in Jiangmen is about 1 percent - almost the same rate as for prostitutes, he said.

Another risk is that about 1 percent of pregnant women in Guangdong province have syphilis.

"If the STD is not controlled, the pregnant women may transmit the virus to their babies," said Chen Yongfeng, a doctor specializing in STDs with the No Eight People's Hospital in Guangzhou.

(China Daily July 2, 2009)

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