Taiwanese Plan To Have Roadside Saleswomen Distribute Condoms To Curb HIV
The Taiwanese government plans to have women who sell betel nuts at roadside booths distribute boxes containing condoms and information about HIV/AIDS to their customers, Yang Shih-yang, an official with the government's Center for Disease Control, said Saturday, the AP/International Herald Tribune reports. Yang said the plan is still being discussed because officials do not want to promote betel nuts, which are commonly sold as a mild stimulant by women in revealing clothing. Some physicians say the nuts can cause cancer. According to Yang, HIV is often spread "along the highways" because truckers and cab drivers engage in sex with commercial sex workers or have multiple sex partners. Some of the women who sell the nuts said the plan is sexually suggestive and could put them at risk of assault, according to the AP/Herald Tribune. Taiwanese officials have said that the number of AIDS cases has been increasing by about 3,000 annually, and the government recently began a program that provides no-cost needles to injection drug users (AP/International Herald Tribune, 4/7). Yang said that the needle-exchange program has led to "a lot of progress" in curbing HIV/AIDS among IDUs but added that the government has "not had as much success with unsafe sex." He added that CDC foresees "the greater availability of condoms and needles as the next stage of our program to decrease the number" of HIV infections. A Department of Health survey found that 70% of Taiwanese people have sex for the first time between ages 15 and 24. It also found that about 30% of Taiwanese use a condom the first time they have sex, the Taipei Times reports. The CDC is negotiating with the Ministry of Education to make condoms available to students, according to Yang (Oung, Taipei Times, 4/7).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.