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HIV threatens Tibetans as Chinese prostitutes migrate west

(TibetanReview.net, Mar 22, 2009) — After moving from the countryside to the cities, sex workers in China are now increasingly spreading out to the Tibetan tourist hotspots in Ganzi (Tibetan: Karze) and Aba (Tibetan: Ngaba) prefectures in Sichuan Province, reported Telegraph.co.uk Mar 19, citing China’s leading HIV expert Dr Jiang Hua. “I’ve heard that many sex workers from Sichuan are going to Ganzi and Aba and we are very concerned about this,” he was quoted as saying, adding that the issue had been a major point of discussion at an HIV seminar he had recently attended.

Two reasons were cited for this new development. “Many of the counties there are now hotspots of tourism and so there’s more business there.” The second reason was that the areas of Sichuan populated by Han Chinese were now fully saturated, so the prostitutes were forging into new markets.

As a result, there’s a growing concern about the spread of HIV in Tibetan areas, including the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), the report said. Neither Ganzi nor Aba are recognized “HIV hotspots”; but it is not too difficult to imagine the disease spreading out of Western Sichuan and into TAR itself, the report cited Dr Jiang as saying. “The potential risk is huge.”

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