|HIV/AIDS program helps China's migrant workers abandon stigma, risk behaviors|
|Friday, 07 August 2009 14:39|
Tags HIV/AIDS program helps China's migrant workers abandon stigma - risk behaviors - MRN - Migrant Resource Network - China
BEIJING, Aug. 4 (Xinhua) -- A 32-month HIV/AIDS Workplace Education Program targeting China's migrant workers has resulted in "positive changes", said sources with the program initiator the International Labor Organization (ILO) Tuesday.
The program has raised the condom-use among participants from 49 percent to 73 percent, said the program's Chief Technical Advisor Richard Howard, citing the program's impact survey results.
About 94 percent of the respondents said they understand that the virus is not spread through casual contact, up from 38 percent in a baseline survey, the impact survey showed. And 84 percent reported a willingness to work with colleagues living with HIV, up from 40 percent in the baseline survey.
Howard, however, noted the survey was based on samples mainly in high risks sectors of migrant workers, such as the construction and coal mine sectors, so the results could not represent all the country's 130 million migrant population.
Launched in January 2007, the program has reached 50 million rural migrant workers through the ILO Hometown Fellows Campaign for Rural Migrant Worker, according to Howard.
The program also reached 250,000 workers with HIV workplace policies and intervention programs in private and state-owned enterprises in Guangdong, Yunnan and Anhui.
The three provinces were chosen because they are either the largest labor-receiving or sending province, or because of high HIV prevalence, he said.
Bernhard Schwartlander, UNAIDS Country Coordinator in China, which was a partner of the program, said he was impressed with some of the program's training sections by positive engagement and laughter of people playing with condoms, looking at cards with sexual behaviors and HIV information.
"Preventing AIDS and getting the message across on HIV/AIDS could actually be fun," he said. "That's the most effective way of getting messages across."
Schwartlander applauded a seven-minute humor piece "Never abandon, never give up", a short Charlie Chaplin-style film exclusively produced as a major education tool for the program.
He said the film, directed by award-winning filmmaker Gu Changwei, educated people about not only the risks but "the no risks" in HIV prevention, referring to ways the virus can be transmitted and the ways in which it cannot be transmitted.
In the film, a man, played by established star Wang Baoqiang, came to a construction site to look for his hometown fellow Zhang Xiaohu.
Zhang was marginalized in the workplace because he was an HIV carrier. Wang spends several days with Zhang and has dinner, washes his face, touches his arms, and dances with him.
Wang's behavior cast aside people's misunderstanding of the ways in which HIV/AIDS could be transmitted and made Zhang welcomed by his colleagues again.
In reality, Wang Baoqiang was once a construction worker himself. And the person who played Zhang Xiaohu is an HIV carrier who was among the first in the country to publicly admit his HIV status.
The film premiered last November. It is being screened in 800 train station waiting rooms in 450 cities across the country, as well as on buses, metro TV and local TV stations, covering about fifty million migrant workers so far, according to ILO.
Liu Kangmai, an official with the State Council AIDS Prevention and Control Working Committee, said more than 45,000 people in the country were reported to have contracted HIV in 2008, including more than 14,000 AIDS patients.
"About 17.5 percent of them are people with high mobility because their household registration places are different from those they are actually living at," he said.
"As a result, HIV/AIDS prevention among migrant population including the migrant workers has become a major task of the government," he said.
According to a joint estimate by China's Ministry of Health, UNAIDS and WHO, there were some 700,000 Chinese living with HIV/AIDS by the end of 2007, including 85,000 AIDS patients.