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Prostitutes Get Clean Bill of Health
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No new cases of HIV infections were recorded among prostitutes in the southern manufacturing city of Dongguan last year, but health authorities have warned against complacency to the disease.

Five out of a total of 14 "AIDS surveillance stations" set up in the city monitored infection rates among high risk groups including employees in Karaoke bars, massage parlors and hair-dressing salons.

There are an estimated 1,639 such workers in the city largely populated by a migrant labor force, according to a report by Guangzhou-based newspaper Southern Metropolis Daily.

"Workers in these workplaces are more likely to give sex services," the newspaper cited an anonymous official of Dongguan's anti-AIDS work team as saying. "They were the major target of the anti-AIDS initiative around the country."

The team works directly under the city government and also closely monitors intravenous drug users and people with a history of contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Special health teams took more than 16,000 samples last year, of which some 200 new HIV positive cases were found. None were prostitutes.

Health officials discovered 350 new cases of AIDS last year, bringing the total number of AIDS patients to 1,129, according to the figures from Dongguan Disease Control and Prevention Center. Of the new cases, some 90 people, or nearly a quarter, were infected through sexual activities.

Dongguan has begun providing free treatment to AIDS patients who are permanent residents.

Meanwhile, the Southern Metropolis Daily reported the city would apply to have two more clinics that provide Methadone maintenance treatment to heroin addicts.

Dongguan already has two clinics.

A total of 167 drug users in the city received Methadone maintenance treatment, an oral synthetic narcotic that helps suppress desire for heroin.

However, the officials from the city's health bureau refuted the report yesterday. "We don't have such a plan. The existing two are still in an experimental stage," an official surnamed Zhang told China Daily yesterday.

(China Daily March 2, 2007)

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