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Thursday, 2 December, 1999, 13:29 GMT
China bans condom advert
Condoms The Chinese authorities frown upon the use of condoms

Chinese authorities have banned the country's first television advertisement promoting the use of condoms to prevent the spread of the HIV virus.

The advertisement was banned just two days after it was unveiled to mark World Aids Day.

The advertisement is not in accordance with advertising regulations
State Administration for Industry and Commerce
Government officials said on Thursday the advertisement was illegally promoting sex products.

State television first aired the advertisement from the country's Family Planning Commission on Sunday.

It showed a cartoon condom fighting off the HIV virus.

Health workers hoped the advertisement would be the first step of a media campaign to raise awareness of HIV and combat the coy attitude that many Chinese have about sex.

But the State Administration for Industry and Commerce banned the advertisement after the second showing on Tuesday.

A spokesman said: "The advertisement is not in accordance with advertising regulations."

The World Health Organisation has said China needs far-reaching AIDS control to avoid widespread infection.

400,000 infected

It is estimated that more than 400,000 people in the country have already been infected.

However, Aids prevention workers complain that their efforts are being stymied by conservative government officials, who are deeply concerned that advocating condom use will promote promiscuity.

We must find a way to strive to use television to encourage condom use
Zheng Xiwen, National Centre for Aids Prevention and Control
Zheng Xiwen, deputy director of the National Centre for Aids Prevention and Control, said: "Advertising condom use is an internationally recognised way to combat Aids, so we should do this in our country too.

"Television advertisements are very important because their audience is very large. People in the cities and the countryside can watch them. We must find a way to strive to use television to encourage condom use."

According to official figures, intravenous drug use accounts for more than 70% of HIV cases in China, while unsafe sexual contact accounts for less than seven percent.

But health experts say the proportion of sexual infections could double in the next two to three years.

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See also:
01 Dec 99 |  World
Young targeted in Aids ceremonies
01 Dec 99 |  World
UN highlights Aids orphans
23 Nov 99 |  Health
HIV hits 50 million

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