Organizations, ILO Launch Campaign That Aims To Raise HIV Awareness Among Migrant Workers in China
Chinese groups and the International Labour Organization on Monday launched a three-year campaign that aims to increase HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention among the country's migrant worker population in the provinces of Anhui, Guangdong and Yunnan, as well as the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, China Daily reports (Guan, China Daily, 7/29).
The program, called "China Workplace Education Program," is a joint project of ILO, the All-China Federation of Trade Unions, China's Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, the Chinese Enterprise Confederation and UNAIDS, Xinhuanet reports. According to Constance Thomas, director of ILO's office for China and Mongolia, the campaign will develop messages and services that aim to change high-risk behavior among migrant workers, promote voluntary counseling and testing services, and ensure the implementation of national and provincial policies to prevent HIV-related stigma and discrimination in the workplace (Xinhuanet, 7/28).
Richard Howard, an adviser to ILO's HIV/AIDS project in Beijing, said, "Since the trend of the epidemic is shifting from drug use to sexual transmission in China, migrant workers have become increasingly vulnerable to HIV infection." He added, "Many of them lack prevention knowledge and are separated from their families and social networks." According to China's Ministry of Health, there were an estimated 700,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country last year, 51% of whom contracted the disease through sexual transmission. Howard said that the challenges of adjusting to urban life have increased high-risk behaviors among migrant workers who are sexually active. He added that in combination with migrant workers' lack of medical insurance, inability to afford proper medical treatment and frequent mobility, the situation becomes even more risky.
Thomas said the campaign will help China focus on higher-risk segments of the migrant worker population and develop messages and services to change their specific high-risk behaviors. "We need to move beyond just raising awareness to changing risk behaviors that lead to HIV infections among workers and their families," Thomas added (China Daily, 7/29).