Monday, September 8, 2003

Staff Medical Writers

WHO promotes 100% condom use among sex workers in Asia

NewsRx — In an effort to slow the spread of AIDS in Asia, the World Health Organization (WHO) recently met in Laos to promote its policy of 100% condom use among sex workers.

The 4-day meeting was held in support of Laos, where the government launched WHO's program in July with a pilot project in the southern city of Savannakhet, WHO official Dr. Bernard Fabre-Teste said.

WHO's strategy seeks to ensure that condoms are used in every sexual transaction involving a sex worker.

Landlocked Laos has a relatively low rate of HIV/AIDS infections but is considered vulnerable to an HIV epidemic because expanded commerce and a growing tourist industry could spur the sex trade.

The rate of HIV infection among adults in Laos in Southeast Asia is less than 0.1%, compared to 1.8% in Thailand and 2.7% in Cambodia, although WHO said HIV rates in Thailand and Cambodia have stabilized since the program was introduced there.

Condom use — especially among sex workers — is at the core of WHO's strategy against the spread of AIDS, but it is sometimes hampered by shortages.

In much of Asia, particularly big countries such as China, the supply of condoms fails to meet demand, said Fabre-Teste, a regional adviser for HIV and sexually transmitted infections based in Manila.

The six countries in WHO's Western Pacific grouping — Cambodia, China, Mongolia, Vietnam, Laos and the Philippines — attended the conference to share ideas and experiences.

— This article was prepared by AIDS Weekly editors from staff and other reports.

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Created: November 29, 2003
Last modified: January 15, 2004
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