HIV/AIDS Education Classes for Commercial Sex Workers in Harbin, China, Cause Controversy
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, Reuters reports (Reuters, 10/15). According to the Harbin Daily, the center organized the two-hour class for more than 50 women involved in the city's commercial sex industry to teach them about HIV and the importance of using condoms correctly. The session also allowed the sex workers to discuss their occupation openly, Xinhua/China Daily reports. After the lecture, organizers distributed boxes of condoms at no cost to the participants and gave them the center's phone number (Xinhua/China Daily, 10/16). The Beijing News reported that local police called the lecture "unacceptable" (Reuters, 10/15). 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, 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).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.