Chinese prostitutes as young as 15 suffering high STD and abortion rates, study reveals

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 July, 2014, 4:46pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 July, 2014, 2:38pm

Prostitutes in a remote province of China – some of them as young as 15 – are suffering from high rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), unplanned pregnancy and prevalent abortions, a study by an award-winning researcher has found.

The study was based on interviews with 310 prostitutes, aged 15 to 20 years old, in Kunming, capital city of the southwestern province of Yunnan.

Two thirds of the women and girls said they had experienced STD-related symptoms in the past year. Some 44 per cent had undergone abortions according to the research, reported Southern Weekly.

The survey helped lead researcher Zhang Xudong win the Women, Girls and HIV Investigator’s Prize at the Aids 2014 conference in Melbourne, Australia which concluded last week, for “excellence in research that addresses girls related to HIV/Aids”.

The study found that the prostitutes lacked proper sexual health-related knowledge. Some 70 per cent of those polled were unable to answer most questions about sexual health asked by researchers.

“They tend to be closed, less exposed to either traditional media or internet. Nor do they access relevant information from schools,” the study concluded.

As a result, 40 per cent of respondents resorted to incorrect or unreliable birth-control methods, consequently leading to high unplanned pregnancy and abortion rates.

Nearly half of those polled had been pregnant at least once in the past. A staggering 98 per cent of them chose to have an abortion after the pregnancy was confirmed.

A separate study Zhang launched in 2012 discovered that many of these girls sought to enter the sex industry, illegal in China, due to lack of education and other skills.

Eighty-three per cent of prostitutes surveyed migrated from rural areas to cities, and of that number, 92 per cent were school dropouts, the study showed.

“Prostitution is the only source of income for 93 per cent of all of the underage sex workers,” the study found.

Zhang declined to elaborate on the study when reached by South China Morning Post on Monday.