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Migrant Workers to Get HIV Training
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Millions of former farmers working in south China's Guangdong Province are now the target of an ongoing nationwide HIV/AIDS prevention program.

"A series of educational programs will be conducted in workplaces where large numbers of migrant workers are employed. We have found that a growing number of them have been afflicted by the disease in recent years," said Chen Huakang, vice-director of the Guangdong provincial department of labor and social security.

Chen made the remarks when representatives from the International Labor Organization paid a four-day visit to Guangdong last week to find out how the educational program was taking shape.

Guangdong, one of the economic powerhouses in south China, currently has more than 24 million migrant workers, one-fifth of the nation's total.

At the end of October last year, the province reported 17,855 HIV/AIDS cases, of which most were migrant workers, Chen said.

"Most young migrant workers have not obtained higher education and they are away from their spouses for most of the year, leading some to seek the services of prostitutes. So they are vulnerable to HIV infection," Chen said.

For example, Shenzhen, a coastal city close to Hong Kong, reported 622 new HIV cases last year, of which 90 percent were migrant workers aged between 20 and 39, sources with the Shenzhen Centre for Disease Control and Prevention said.

"The worst thing is that a large number of migrant workers have little knowledge about AIDS and they tend to take no protective measures," Chen said.

Under the campaign, employers and migrant workers will be taught how HIV is transmitted and how it can be prevented.

"We will also hand out free AIDS prevention brochures, work with health departments to offer free HIV tests and promote condom use," Chen said.

Guangdong, together with the provinces of Yunnan in southwest China and Anhui in east China, were selected as pilot places for the program which was introduced last year.

"The program aims not only to prevent HIV/AIDS from spreading, but also to protect workers. We could lose a large number of workers in the near future if we do not take effective measures to address the problem," Chen said.

(China Daily May 16, 2007)

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