China's long-distance drivers given playing cards to learn about safe sex

Long-distance bus and truck drivers of Yanshan County, North China's Hebei Province, have received free decks of playing cards from the local government to help them learn about safe sex.

"Long-distance drivers are prone to having sex on their journeys because of long periods apart from their wives," said Zhang Manli, secretary-general of the county's family planning association, on Tuesday at a meeting on reproductive health in Shenzhen.

Chinese family planning officials from various regions have made use of the China Youth Reproductive Health Project Dissemination Meeting as a platform to share experiences in sex education.

A major part of their ongoing efforts is to extend sex education from school students to other groups of people, especially army staff, prisoners, long-distance truck and bus drivers and the migrant population, they said.

"Most long-distance truck and bus drivers lack knowledge about safe sex. That makes it possible for venereal disease and HIV/AIDS to spread quickly among them and their wives and girlfriends," said Zhang.

The playing cards are printed with cartoons illustrating measures to avoid dangerous sexual acts and prevent HIV/AIDS.

Zhao Rongqiao, a family planning official from Shandong Province, said sex education has been carried out in some army units of the province. Responses from the soldiers are very positive.

"In our survey of 300 soldiers, more than 99 percent say such education is very necessary," said Zhao.

Zhao said as the soldiers lack opportunities for contact with the opposite sex, they need guidance on sexual knowledge to prevent them from getting psychological problems.

Zhao said role play sessions are introduced in sex education among the soldiers. "Each participant is asked to play the role of either a nurse, a teacher, a homosexual, a prostitute or a household wife and give his views on how to prevent HIV/AIDS."

This interactive approach has become very popular with soldiers. Like the majority of Chinese people, they are reluctant to openly talk about sex because of the influence of traditional culture, said Zhao.

Over the past five years, Shenzhen, Qingdao, Beijing, Wuhan and a few other Chinese cities have carried out sex education among migrant rural workers, prisoners and homosexuals.

Previously, sex education in China was confined to school and college students.

"These are innovative programs to reach the people that are harder to reach for sex education," said Lisa Mueller, official of an American health organization that is one of the supporters of the project.

Raj Karim, Regional Director of the International Planned Parenthood Federation in East and South Asia and the Oceanic Region, said: "These groups of people, such as sex workers, young entertainers, migrants or those with sexual diversity, are most in need of our care and services but are least likely to use government or conventional health care systems."

"We are happy that this project has focused on reaching out to young people in and out of school, at the workplace, in the community and those exposed to higher risk of HIV and RSH problems and infection," she said.

Source: Xinhua

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