Monday, March 5, 2007

Hotels with no condoms get fined

BEIJING - A Chinese province has taken the unusual step of fining hotels and bars more than $600 if they do not provide condoms, part of efforts to fight the spread of AIDS, a newspaper said on Friday.

The booming eastern province of Zhejiang, with 1,859 recorded infections by the end of last year, started enforcing the rules on Thursday, the Beijing News said.

"Condoms or condom-vending machines must be placed in hotels, bars and designated public places, or the managers will be fined 5,000 yuan ($650)," the report said.

The Chinese government originally stigmatized AIDS as a disease of the decadent, capitalist West -- a problem of gays, sex workers and drug users. Traditionally, none of these officially existed in communist China.

It has belatedly woken up to the problem, and health experts have warned the virus is now moving into the general population.

But a lack of sex education and unwillingness to talk about sex still hampers the fight, health experts say.

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