Chinese paper criticises proposed ban on HIV positive people using saunas

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China’s Global Times has urged officials in the country to drop proposals banning people who are HIV positive from accessing spas and public bathhouses.

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce published a draft law urging venues to prominently display signs prohibiting “people with sexually transmitted diseases, AIDS and infectious skin diseases” from using the facilities earlier this week.

The United Nations’ HIV agency criticised the move and said it would undermine efforts to tackle China’s HIV epidemic.

In an editorial published on Thursday, China’s Global Times said: “The Ministry of Commerce has good intentions in protecting the health and safety of the majority, but the lack of a mechanism that can guarantee that the decision is made in a well-thought-through manner can only leave an impression to the public that it cares about HIV patients much less. How to ensure that the rhetoric is neutral and that measures are detailed is what really matters.”

Following criticism, the Ministry of Commerce has suggested that the policy still requires consultation with public health professionals and representatives from the public.

HIV prevention campaigners in the UK have long argued that restricting gay and bisexual men from accessing male saunas is simply a counter-productive move. Rather than trying to stigmatise clients of such venues – UK policy is based on working with saunas in helping those most at risk with condom use, testing, and general HIV awareness.