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Migrant Workers Given Classes on AIDS
As a non-profit social organization, the China Youth Development Foundation has devoted itself to preventing young migrant workers from being infected by HIV/AIDS.

"Young farmer-turned workers are among the group that is most vulnerable to AIDS," said Wu Xiuhe, vice-director of the foundation's Health Foundation Office.

In Xiaxian County of north China's Shanxi Province, three classrooms were set up by Wu's office to teach those young farmers HIV/AIDS prevention.

"Those migrant workers-to-be can learn how to protect themselves from AIDS at our classrooms, which are called Aixindao -- love island," Wu said.

Meanwhile, there are fixed exhibiting boards at all Aixindao on AIDS prevention.

Before heading for the cities, every young farmer that comes to Wu's Aixindao will receive a card with good wishes, as well as information about how AIDS is transmitted and how to avoid it.

"The work started in March as an experimental project and will expand to other regions if proved successful," he said.

Wu emphasized that it is very important to educate young migrant workers over the issue.

"Far away from their hometown, some of them will sell blood to illegal blood banks for money. Some will have sexual relations with prostitutes. And these are both very possible ways to contract HIV/AIDS," he said.

"Even worse, most of those migrant workers don't know how to avoid the fatal disease. They will even hardly realize it when they are infected as most of them do not have regular physical examinations," Wu said.

A survey conducted by the China Youth Development Foundation in South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region supported Wu's views.

Among the 100 people surveyed at Guangxi's capital city Nanning, only 19 percent knew the three transmission ways of HIV.

The people surveyed covered various fields including security personnel, sales people, dust men and drivers.

Besides educating migrant workers at their home towns, Wu's office also recruited more than 200 volunteers to hand out materials on AIDS prevention in Beijing, one of the cities that has a large number of migrant workers.

"The books, written by us, have simple characters and pictures to make them easy to understand," he said.

More than 20,000 books have been distributed in Beijing, Shanxi, Guangxi and Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province.

Established in 2002, the Health Foundation Office of the China Youth Development Foundation has collected 1 million yuan (US$121,000), donated by the Guilin Latex Factory in Guangxi.

Wu vowed to step up more efforts, in co-operating with the government, to educate people about AIDS prevention.

(China Daily July 3, 2004)

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