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Xinjiang Promotes Condom Use at All Entertainment Venues
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Health authorities in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region will promote the use of condoms at all entertainment venues this year amid efforts to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS.

To date, 40 counties and cities in the region, or nearly half of the total, have launched the 100 percent Condom Use Program (CUP), promoted by the World Health Organization (WHO) worldwide, at entertainment spots, according to the regional health department.

The counties and cities which have not started the program must make condoms available at every entertainment place in the first half of the year, the health department has ordered.

Xinjiang reported 27,209 HIV/AIDS cases from 1995 to the end of September 2006, including 700 AIDS patients and 111 deaths, according to local health authorities.

Xinjiang ranks fourth on the HIV/AIDS infection list out of 31 provinces, municipalities, and autonomous regions on the Chinese mainland and accounts for about one tenth of the country's total sufferers.

Health authorities estimate that HIV/AIDS cases exceed 60,000 in Xinjiang and the region will face a severe challenge in combating the disease.

The local government has vowed to limit the number of HIV/AIDS cases to 120,000 by 2010 and raise the proportion of high-risk groups using condoms to 90 percent.

The first "100 percent CUP" was pioneered in Thailand in 1989 and has since been adopted in other Asian nations, producing clear results in HIV/AIDS and sexual disease control.

The program makes condoms compulsory for all sex workers at all times and in every entertainment venue. The aim is to reduce HIV/AIDS infection among high-risk people.

A joint effort by the Chinese Ministry of Health and WHO, the program was implemented on a trial basis in Wuhan City of Hubei Province, Jingjiang City of Jiangsu Province, Danzhou City of Hainan Province and Lixian County of Hunan Province since 2001.

The program has been fully implemented in Hubei, Hunan, Yunnan and Hainan provinces.

In addition to Xinjiang, the provinces of Shandong, Gansu, Liaoning and Fujian, and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region are carrying out the program.

Data from the Ministry of Health show that the number of reported HIV/AIDS cases grew to 183,733 nationwide by the end of October last year, up nearly 30 percent from 144,089 at the end of2005.

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

The Ministry said by Oct. 31 last year, 12,464 people had died in China as a result of illnesses associated with the HIV virus.

(Xinhua News Agency January 4, 2007)

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