Authorities in China's Yunnan province announced they will require hospitality industry workers to take annual HIV antibody tests, Xinhua News Agency reports. The mandatory free tests are meant to control HIV's spread and help get those infected into timely treatment, said Wang Yinsheng, a Yunnan AIDS Prevention Center official. The testing rule would apply to employees of hotels, bathhouses, beauty salons, nightclubs, and other entertainment venues that play a role in China's sex industry. Those testing positive for HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases would be denied a certificate of good health, without which they could not legally work in the hospitality or service industries. Xinhua reports that those infected would be fired; however, Wang said health officials would not insist that infected workers be fired--they could instead be transferred to jobs involving no public contact, Wang said.
Though the United Nations strongly supports voluntary HIV antibody testing, Yunnan's mandatory testing rule "is a worrisome development," said Joel Rehnstrom, country coordinator based out of Beijing for the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS. Mandatory testing was tried several years ago in Thailand and was found to be much less effective than condom promotion, he said. (AP)