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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Tibetans face HIV risk as prostitutes migrate west

March 20, 2009

Malcolm Moore
The Telegraph (UK)
March 19, 2009

At night, Chinese cities are dotted with pink
lights - each one representing a small brothel,
usually a hairdressing salon which offers extra services after dark.

Chengdu is no exception, but the financial crisis
is having an odd and potentially dangerous effect on the sex industry.

Usually, girls from the countryside move to the
city in search of money. Now, however, the flow has been reversed.

According to Jiang Hua, a doctor and one of
China's leading HIV experts, significant numbers
of sex workers are moving west into Tibetan areas of Sichuan.

"I've heard that many sex workers from Sichuan
are going to Ganzi and Aba and we are very
concerned about this," he said, adding that the
issue had been a major point of discussion at an
HIV seminar he had recently attended.

"Many of the counties there are now hotspots of
tourism and so there's more business there." In
addition, he said, the areas of Sichuan populated
by Han Chinese are now fully saturated, so the
prostitutes are forging into new markets.

As a result, there's a growing concern about the
spread of HIV in Tibetan areas.

Dr Jiang said he thought the incidence of the
disease would "definitely" rise. "Tibetans have a
different culture and opinions on reproduction.
Condom usage is really very low. So it is widely
expected that there will be more disease," he said.

But the problem is not getting much attention,
since neither Ganzi or Aba are recognized "HIV
hotspots". But it is not too difficult to imagine
the disease spreading out of Western Sichuan and into Tibet itself.

"The potential risk is huge," said Dr Jiang, glumly.
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