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Prostitutes Targeted in Anti-AIDS Battle

Prostitutes are being made the focus of the Ministry of Health's latest efforts to stem the spread of HIV/AIDS.

According to a draft guideline released by the ministry on Monday, prostitutes are to be offered HIV/AIDS and safe-sex education, as well as tests and treatments for sexually transmitted diseases.

According to the draft, education will be provided by trained peers and professional health workers.

"Intervention with prostitutes is more difficult compared with drug addicts who are more easily identifiable because they often gather together and only a certain group of people take drugs," Wang Longde, vice minister for health, said earlier this month.

Although illegal, prostitution is widespread throughout China.

A part-time homosexual masseur from Beijing's Chaoyang District who identified himself only as Zhang was all for the new approach.

"The test for HIV/AIDS or STDs is totally OK with me," he said.

The man, who said he engaged in prostitution only "occasionally," believes it is extremely unlikely he is infected with HIV/AIDS because he uses condoms.

As well as STD patients, prostitutes and homosexuals, the health ministry is also to target long-term migrant workers and drug addicts.

Patients with STDs will be given standard medical treatment and free condoms and information about HIV and AIDS will be disseminated in areas frequented by people from high-risk groups.

The ministry said medical workers involved in the plan should have knowledge of the patterns of transmission of HIV and other sexual diseases in the areas where they are to work.

(China Daily June 8, 2005)

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