AIDS program targets migrant workers
Updated: 2010-12-22 11:10
Health authorities launched a nationwide HIV/AIDS awareness-raising campaign on Tuesday, mainly targeting China's 200 million migrant workers from rural areas who experts say are exposed to a high risk of getting the possibly deadly infection.
Under the long-term project, migrant workers will be given regular workshops and tools for HIV/AIDS prevention at their workplaces such as factories and construction sites.
"Migrant workers have the right to health and the project aims to equip them with the tools and knowledge to protect themselves from HIV/AIDS," said Hao Yang, deputy director of the Office of the State Council Working Committee for AIDS Prevention and Control, at the opening ceremony of the campaign in Beijing.
China has roughly 370,000 reported HIV/AIDS cases on the mainland, official statistics showed. More than 23 percent are in the migrant population, primarily migrant workers.
"The prevalence of HIV/AIDS has been climbing in recent years among them," Hao told China Daily.
Given their great mobility and relatively poor knowledge of self-protection, "the project will help curb the rising trend among them, which is also of great significance for the country's overall battle against the disease," he said.
Sexually active migrant workers aged between 18 and 49 have limited access to education on how to protect themselves from HIV/AIDS, said He Xiong, deputy director of the Beijing Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
In Beijing, migrant people account for 70 percent of the roughly 8,000 reported cases of HIV/AIDS, he noted.
Qiu Zhenzhong, a construction worker employed in Beijing, told China Daily that his knowledge about HIV/AIDS prevention was quite limited and he welcomed such programs being held in the workplace.
"But I don't know whether our employers will give us the time for such activities," said the man in his early 20s.
Zheng Kejian, a division director of the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce, urged employers, particularly those in the private sector, to give full support and finally "integrate HIV/AIDS prevention education into staff training".
As surplus rural laborers leave the countryside to find jobs in the cities, high-risk behaviors have risen, including multiple sexual partners and prostitution, increasing the possibility of HIV transmission, experts warned.
"We'll organize more such events to reach them with disease prevention know-how and free condoms, primarily in provinces like Zhejiang and Guangdong (major destinations for migrant workers)," Zheng said.
It is estimated that the Chinese mainland has at least 740,000 people living with HIV - many of them who did not report their cases or may be unaware of the infection - and the number is expected to reach 1.2 million by 2015, according to the Ministry of Health.
1. What percentage of the 370,000 reported HIV/AIDs cases in China are amongst migrant workers?
2. Roughly How many migrant workers does China have?
3. How many people are thought to be living with HIV in the Chinese mainland?
1. 23 percent.
2. 200 million.
（中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑）
Todd Balazovic is a reporter for the Metro Section of China Daily. Born in Mineapolis Minnesota in the US, he graduated from Central Michigan University and has worked for the China Daily for one year.
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