School con­dom sales spark heated row

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By MA LIE in Xi’an malie@chi­

Par­ents fear that a de­ci­sion by health au­thor­i­ties in Xi’an, Shaanxi prov­ince, al­low­ing mid­dle schools to sell con­doms on cam­pus will pro­mote teenage sex. The move has been made to curb an in­crease in HIV/AIDS cases.

“The de­ci­sion was made by the provin­cial govern­ment af­ter in-depth re­search and care­ful stud­ies,” said Ma Guanghui, di­rec­tor of the Shaanxi provin­cial health and fam­ily plan­ning com­mit­tee’s dis­ease con­trol of­fice.

China has seen an in­crease in the num­ber of HIV/AIDS cases among people aged 15 to 24 in re­cent years.

In 2008, the coun­try re­ported 482 HIV/AIDS cases in­volv­ing people in that age group, but the num­ber rose to 1,387 in 2012, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Cen­ter for AIDS and Sex­u­ally Trans­mit­ted Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion.

The lat­est pol­icy has trig­gered con­tro­versy in Xi’an.

A woman in the city sur­named Wu, whose son will en­ter ju­nior high school in Septem­ber, said, “It is not suit­able to sell con­doms in mid­dle schools.”

But an­other Xi’an res­i­dent sur­named Xie, whose son is a third grader at a ju­nior high school, sup­ported the mea­sure.

“I think it is nec­es­sary to pro­tect stu­dents from sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted dis­eases and preg­nancy, be­cause sex is not rare among high school stu­dents nowa­days,” Xie said.

Liu Ling, deputy di­rec­tor of Shaanxi provin­cial health and fam­ily plan­ning com­mit­tee, said AIDS preven­tion and con­trol work is at a crit­i­cal stage in the prov­ince. Shaanxi has set a tar­get for new HIV in­fec­tions to fall by 25 per­cent by the end of 2015, com­pared with the level in 2010.

Sell­ing con­doms in mid­dle schools is part of the ef­fort to achieve this tar­get, Liu added.

AIDS preven­tion ed­u­ca­tion would also be im­proved in schools and anti-AIDS cour­ses added to the cur­ricu­lum, he said. Shan Juan con­trib­uted to this story.

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