Sex work­ers avoid HIV pro­grams

Many keep low pro­file fol­low­ing po­lice crack­down on pros­ti­tu­tion

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By SHAN JUAN shan­juan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Those on the front line of the sex in­dus­try are shun­ning HIV/AIDS preven­tion ser­vices for fear of ex­po­sure af­ter a crack­down on pros­ti­tu­tion in Dong­guan, Guang­dong prov­ince.

Ac­cord­ing to the head of the Tian­jin Xin’ai Cul­tural Cen­ter — a non­govern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tion com­mit­ted to HIV/ AIDS in­ter­ven­tion among lowend sex work­ers in the city — the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s work just got a lot more dif­fi­cult.

“We used to cover more than 700 low-end sex work­ers in the city and many of them now re­ject our ser­vices,” said the NGO head, who did not want her name to be used.

The cam­paign in Dong­guan came hours af­ter a China Cen­tral Tele­vi­sion pro­gram re­vealed that high-end ho­tels in the city were of­fer­ing sex for sale.

tested pos­i­tive for HIV in 2012

Po­lice have held more than 500 sus­pects in more than 1,300 cases of or­ga­niz­ing, solic­it­ing or in­tro­duc­ing sex ser­vices in Dong­guan since Feb 9.

Many other cities have since stepped up ef­forts to crack down on pros­ti­tu­tion.

The women that the Tian­jin Xin’ai Cul­tural Cen­ter helps work mostly at mas­sage par­lors.

The ma­jor­ity come from im­pov­er­ished ru­ral ar­eas, have lit­tle ed­u­ca­tion and low health aware­ness, es­pe­cially re­gard­ing STDs, the head of the NGO said.

They are mainly be­tween 35 and 55 years old, she said. “Some can’t even read the AIDS preven­tion brochures we dis­trib­uted.”

Nearly 20 per­cent of the sex work­ers had syphilis, she said, al­though this num­ber is de­clin­ing through in­ter­ven­tion.

“It’s far eas­ier to deliver in­ter­ven­tion ser­vices at large, high-end par­lors, like at those ho­tels in Dong­guan,” she said.

he

said,

Sex work­ers there are usu­ally younger women who have higher health aware­ness and are more likely to use con­doms with their clients, she said.

In 2012, AIDS con­trol work­ers tested 1.36 mil­lion sex work­ers na­tion­wide for HIV, and 1,130 tested pos­i­tive.

“Pros­ti­tu­tion def­i­nitely played a role in this fig­ure, and sex work­ers have long been high on our work­ing agenda to curb AIDS,” said Wu Zun­you, di­rec­tor of the Na­tional Cen­ter for AIDS and Sex­u­ally Trans­mit­ted Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion.

How­ever,

that re­quires co­op­er­a­tion from pub­lic se­cu­rity and health au­thor­i­ties.

In 2010, Dong­guan started a pro­gram to help pre­vent HIV/ AIDS among sex work­ers.

Un­der the pro­gram, funded by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tu­ber­cu­lo­sis and Malaria, the dis­ease con­trol and preven­tion cen­ter in Dong­guan con­ducted HIV/ AIDS in­ter­ven­tion tar­get­ing 12,500 sex work­ers in the city, ac­cord­ing to Guangzhou Daily.

Lin Peng, head of the Guang­dong CDC’s sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted dis­ease di­vi­sion, said that by the end of 2012 the num­ber of HIV/AIDS cases re­ported in Dong­guan ac­counted for 3.8 per­cent of the more than 36,000 cases in the prov­ince.

In 2012 alone, Guang­dong re­ported 6,454 HIV/AIDS cases, 502 of them in Dong­guan.

More than 80 per­cent in­volved het­ero­sex­ual trans­mis­sion, higher than the na­tional 70 per­cent aver­age, he said.

“Many of the in­fected were male mi­grants in the city who lived away from their spouses,” he said. He added that 86 per­cent of those re­ported in 2012 were non-lo­cals.

“It’s harder to reach mi­grant work­ers through in­ter­ven­tion ef­forts,” he said.

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