Sex education raises Aids awareness

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 February, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 February, 2007, 12:00am

One of the rare cases in which non-governmental organisations have been able to make inroads into schools for children of migrant workers is sex education, as the mainland wakes up to the threat

of a potential Aids crisis.

In 2005, Hong Kong charity Children's Medical Foundation extended a successful peer education programme for HIV and Aids to six middle schools for migrant children in Shanghai.

'Most kids in Shanghai are privileged,' said Christine Mar, executive director of the charity, formerly known as Project HOPE Hong Kong Foundation. 'I thought, 'Why don't we cater to the migrant population?''

Adult migrants are considered to be at high risk of Aids, given the number of single men or husbands separated from their wives, as well as women working in the sex industry.

Shanghai Second Medical University, which carried out the programme with funding from the charity, had an easier time securing permission to go into migrant schools than into the city's regular schools.

Aids activists say migrant schools have more latitude in setting their curriculums, because they aren't under strict government control. Mainland academics have called for finding ways to give migrants - not just their children - sex education, but it has proven easier to target the schools.

In Shanghai, children of migrants scored lower on a questionnaire about HIV/Aids than other students before any instruction was given, but they improved markedly after the sponsored course.