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Epidemic and Response


Sex Education in China

Source: CHAIN

Sex Education

Although the subject of sex has long been taboo in Chinese society, the Chinese government has recently initiated sex-education programs in school, in an effort to stem the HIV infection rate. Starting in 1995 with a policy requiring all incoming college students to take HIV prevention courses, there has been consistent effort to expand sex education in China's school system. As of June 2003, 50 percent of primary schools and more than 80 percent of junior and senior high schools had begun sex education classes. In 2003 the Ministry of Education announced that along with sex education, it would add AIDS prevention and anti-drug awareness to the national education program.

The government developed pilot sex education programs in the early 1990s, at places such as the Beijing Medical University and the Shanghai Second University. Through these programs the government was able to evaluate which teaching methods were most effective in the sensitive area of sex-education. While the traditional Chinese teaching method has a teacher lecturing and students listening, these programs tried innovative approaches to education, including peers teaching peers and dialogue-focused discussions.

In 2004 , it was announced that teaching materials developed by Project Hope, a Hong Kong based charity, would be used in several Shanghai schools. Working with the Shanghai Education Commission, a pilot program was initiated and implemented in one of Shanghai's every eighteen city districts. The program uses students from Shanghai's Second Medical University as peer educators, with the idea that the students and teachers who learn from them will eventually be responsible for educating other schools and groups in their district. The program will also be extended to provide peer educators for children of migrant workers.

Projects have been launched at the provincial and local levels in coordination with international NGOs. The Sino-Australian project started a program in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region to train teachers on AIDS, drugs and sexual diseases. The program aims to first educate officials and leaders of local schools, then training health teachers and teachers in charge of classes. The program ensures that all students have a basic knowledge of HIV/AIDS and drugs.

Although much has been done recently to increase and improve sex education, a 2004 survey shows there is still a long way to go. According to the survey, conducted by the End Child Sexual Abuse Foundation, more than 40 percent of the 3,227 secondary school students polled did not know to prevent HIV and STDs. The majority of students said they did not discuss such issues with their families.

Because HIV is spreading from more isolated groups to the general population, the Chinese government is increasing its focus on prevention policies such as condom promotion. The first condom advertisement appeared on Chinese television in 1999, but was banned shortly afterwards because condom advertisements were illegal. In 2002 the government re-asserted its support of HIV/AIDS prevention by lifting all bans on advertisements that promoted safe sex awareness. This move marked a new stage in governmental policy, and since 2002 television advertisements promoting condom use, as well as posters, have become an essential piece of HIV/AIDS prevention policy.