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HIV/AIDS education classes for commercial sex workers in China cause Controversy

Kaiser Network, Washington DC, USA:
17 October, 2006 -- A lecture in Harbin, China, led by the Harbin Municipal Disease Prevention and Control Center that informed commercial sex workers about HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections has "sparked a strong rebuke" from some authorities and residents. The session allowed the sex workers to discuss their occupation openly. After the lecture, organizers distributed boxes of condoms at no cost to the participants and gave them the center's phone number. The Beijing News reported that local police called the lecture "unacceptable". More

Wen Yinghcun, director of Harbin's disease prevention and control center, said that he had been warned by local officials that police might object to the initiatives but that the majority of people and government officials have supported the programs, the South China Morning Post reports. According to a survey conducted by a Chinese Web site, www.sina.com, 77% of 5,000 respondents supported the classes and 20% opposed them. "Only 15% of sex workers in the city use condoms regularly and most of them don't even know exactly what AIDS is," Wen said (Wu, South China Morning Post, 10/16). "If we neglect this group of people, it's irresponsible," he added (Xinhua/China Daily, 10/16).