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Condoms Mandatory for Lanzhou Sex-workers
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A 100 percent Condom Use Program (CUP) for sex workers has been introduced in Lanzhou, capital of northwest China's Gansu Province, in an effort to stop HIV/AIDS spreading from high-risk people to the general public.  


The initiative makes condoms compulsory for the city's sex-workers at all times and in every entertainment venue. The objective is to reduce HIV/AIDS infections among high-risk people.


"Increasing condom use at entertainment places will bring sexual contact-based HIV/AIDS infections under control and prevent the further spread of the fatal disease," said Wiwat Rojanapithayakorn, head of the HIV/AIDS team at the World Health Organization's China office at a CUP promotional meeting on Tuesday in Lanzhou.


Wang Xiaoming, the deputy head of the provincial health authority, said there were 300 reported HIV/AIDS cases in Gansu Province though the actual number is estimated to be 2,000. Of these 40 percent contracted the disease through drug abuse and 30 percent through unsafe sexual contact.


CUP was started in Thailand and has since been adopted by other Asian nations when it was recognized it was effective in controlling the spread of HIV/AIDS.


The program is a joint effort by the Chinese Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization. It's been implemented on a trial basis in Hubei Province's Wuhan City, Jiangsu Province's Jingjiang City, Hainan Province's Danzhou City and Hunan Province's Lixian County.


Gansu has implemented the program in Jiayuguan and Dunhuang cities as well as in Lanzhou's Anning District. As the program expands to other areas of the provincial capital the responsible departments will sign health education protocols with owners and managers of all entertainment venues, provide them with publicity material and free condoms.


Figures from the Ministry of Health show the number of reported HIV/AIDS cases grew to 183,733 nationwide this year. This is up nearly 30 percent from 144,089 at the end of 2005.


If those who are unaware that they're carrying the HIV virus are taken into account the number of cases in China was likely to be around 650,000. This is according to estimates by experts from the United Nations and the Ministry of Health.


(China Daily November 23, 2006)

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