BEIJING (Reuters) - China is drafting laws to manage HIV and
AIDS prevention in a bid to curb the spread of the killer
disease that currently infects at least 500,000 Chinese, state
media said on Friday.
But health officials are locked in debate over whether the law
should allow the distribution of condoms and sex education to
China's prostitutes and their customers, the China Daily
reported. "Many people are not ready to accept such measures,
nor would they accept the distribution of condoms in hotels and
universities," the newspaper quoted Chen Baozhen, director of
the Ministry of Health's infectious disease prevention and
supervision office, as saying.
With the number of infected people expected to double within a
decade, the ministry hoped to have regulations ready to be put
into effect soon, the newspaper said. No timetable was given.
Conservative attitudes towards sex are proving resilient in
China. A Shenzhen company's campaign to hand out free condoms
at Beijing universities and colleges on World AIDS Day last
year met with frowns of disapproval from students.
China also banned its first national condom advertisement last
year, because promoting sex products conflicted with China's
social conventions and morals, state media said.
The newspaper said legal experts wanted an amendment to
criminal laws that would punish people who intentionally
infected others with HIV, the virus that causes Acquired Immune
Deficiency Syndrome or AIDS.
But drafting such a law was difficult, Ministry of Health
officials said. "How can the law confirm whether or not an
HIV/AIDS patient infects others intentionally?" Chen was quoted
Often HIV/AIDS victims did not know they were infected when
engaging in unsafe sexual activities, sharing needles or giving
blood, he said.
Present laws state that people who are infected with sexually
transmitted diseases but still engage in illicit sexual
activities, such as prostitution, face a five-year prison term.
But HIV/AIDS is not considered a sexually transmitted disease
under these laws.
While China's health officials expect the number of HIV
infected people to double in a decade, United Nations
statistics show HIV, if left unchecked, will spread to about 10
million Chinese citizens before 2010.