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Condoms to Be Made More Widely Available

China is launching a campaign to popularize the use of condoms as a tool to prevent the spread of AIDS.

Starting on Monday, August 1, condoms will be provided at public and recreation places in regions such as Beijing and East China's Jiangsu Province.

Sponsored by six ministries, the campaign aims to control and prevent the spread of AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Departments of health at all levels are responsible for public education on AIDS and the use of the condoms.

Official statistics show China has an estimated 840,000 HIV carriers and about 80,000 AIDS patients. Experts said the actual figure could be much higher than that because sometimes it is hard to register all these people.

If the situation is not controlled by 2010, the number of HIV carriers in China could hit 12 million, officials said.

Although the prevalence is still low, there has been an accelerated increase, and the high prevalence in some regions and high mortality rate among certain groups has made the Chinese Government realize the magnitude of the peril.

Condoms are one of the most effective ways to prevent AIDS, experts said.

In Beijing, a number of condom vending machines will be set up at universities, while in hotels, bars, and in regions inhabited by migrants, condoms will be provided directly or through condom vending machines.

In Haikou, capital of South China's Hainan Province, the municipal government has demanded co-operation from the departments of health, public security and tourism to popularize the use of condoms.

Vending machines will be set up at hotels, bars, colleges and in regions inhabited by migrants, while free pamphlets and posters will also be widely employed for AIDS-related education.

(China Daily July 31, 2004)

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