Saturday, February 17, 2001

More than 20 percent of Vietnamese prostitutes have HIV: study

HANOI, (AFP) — More than 20 percent of Vietnamese protitutes have HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, 10 times more than just two years ago, according to an official study.

The ministry of labour and social affairs surveyed 13,600 prostitutes on whom it keeps official dossiers late last year.

The survey published Friday found 21.6 percent had contracted the virus, compared with 2.8 percent in 1998. Vietnam is believed to actually have hundreds of thousands of prostitutes.

The official media said earlier this week many prostitutes had returned to plying their trade in downtown Hanoi immediately after leaving "reeducation" centres.

The poorly funded centres can usually only keep the women off the streets for a few months.

The study also showed that prostitution had been discovered in police checks on more than 10,000 of the country's "cultural establishments," which include dance rooms and karaoke bars, according to the Saigon daily Saigon Giai Phong.

Almost 400 of the establishments are run by the government, it said.

Nearly 70 percent of prostitution clients here are reportedly Communist Party officials and bureaucrats, while prostitution and the trafficking in women has become more widespread in recent years in rural areas with the help of foreign criminals.

After drugs, prostitution is the second-largest factor in the spread of AIDS in Vietnam, where 30,000 HIV-positive people have officially been registered.

More than 2,500 of the 4,830 people to develop AIDS have died, according to the latest statistics from the national anti-AIDS committee.

Prime Minister Phan Van Khai this week launched a major campaign to curb prostitution by 2005 and cut AIDS cases.

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Created: February 26, 2001
Last modified: August 31, 2001
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