China Calls for Expanded Use of Condoms

By MARK MCDONALD

HONG KONG — China has just issued a new “action plan” to combat the rising spread of H.I.V. and AIDS, and this seems to be the takeaway: Condoms or condom vending machines should be available in 95 percent of the country’s hotels by 2015.

The plan by the State Council, according to the official Chinese news agency Xinhua, “urged comprehensive intervention to prevent H.I.V./AIDS infection through sexual intercourse, as intercourse has become the most common transmission channel in China.”

China’s “overall burden” from H.I.V. and AIDS cases is low, according to the World Health Organization office in Beijing. But the numbers of reported cases in China are rising as heterosexual transmission surpasses injection drug use as the No. 1 cause of infection.

“There is still time for China to slow the spread of HIV and to prevent a wider epidemic,” a W.H.O. bulletin said. “Concerted, scaled-up prevention efforts are needed to ensure universal access to condoms, clean needles and other protective measures.”

Government figures say the country has about 780,000 people living with H.I.V./AIDS, including 154,000 AIDS patients.
Michel Sidibé, executive director of the United Nations’ AIDS prevention agency, has lobbied China, South Africa, India and Russia to energize (or in some cases reverse) their approaches to the epidemic, as my colleague Donald G. McNeil Jr. reported in a recent profile of Mr. Sidibé.The government wants AIDS deaths to decrease 30 percent by 2015, with new infections dropping 25 percent and total infections maxxing out at 1.2 million by 2015.

“He pressed China to admit that H.I.V. was spreading rapidly among gay men and drug users,” Donald wrote, “and that the 500,000 Chinese working in Africa and 40 million migrant laborers, many of whom visit prostitutes, were potential risk pools.”