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Friday, 6 October, 2000, 16:02 GMT 17:02 UK
China wages war on Aids
China HIV graph
China is drafting new laws to curb the spread of Aids, which it estimates will affect one million people within the next decade.

The new measures could include punishing HIV/Aids carriers who intentionally infect others, a report in the state media said on Friday.

Bar sign
Up to 10m women are thought to work in China's sex industry
Health officials are also locked in debate over whether to provide condoms and sex education to prostitutes and their clients.

The China Daily newspaper said at least 500,000 people in the country are HIV positive and warned the number was expected to double within a decade.

However, the United Nations has estimated China will have 10 million cases by 2010 if the disease is left unchecked.

Jail

The China Daily said the Ministry of Health hoped to put the new HIV/Aids regulations into force soon, but it gave no timetable.

Measures under consideration include laws to punish those who intentionally infect others.


How can the law confirm whether or not an HIV/Aids patient infects others intentionally?

Chen Baozhen, Health Ministry
But Chen Baozhen, director of the infectious disease prevention office, said this would be tricky as most carriers did not know they were infected when they engaged in unsafe sex, shared needles, or gave blood.

Under Chinese laws anyone infected with a sexually transmitted disease - who still engages in illicit sexual activity such as prostitution - can be jailed for up to five years.

However, the law does not count people infected with HIV/Aids as carriers of sexually transmitted diseases.

Condoms


Many people are not ready to accept the distribution of condoms in hotels and universities

Chen Baozhen, Health Ministry
Sex remains a largely taboo subject in China where the majority of the population continues to ignore the risks of HIV/Aids infection.

At the end of last year, the Chinese authorities banned an advertising campaign for condoms because it went against "all our customs and ethics".

China ranks fourth among Asian countries in its number of HIV-positive people, following India, Thailand and Burma.

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See also:

14 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
Aids spreads in China
05 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
China Aids warning
02 Dec 99 | Health
China bans condom advert
01 Dec 99 | World
UN highlights Aids orphans
23 Nov 99 | Health
HIV hits 50 million
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