The number of new HIV cases reported in Guangzhou has stabilised at about 200 a year, but the virus is spreading more quickly among groups previously thought to be low-risk, especially women. Yao Jianming , vice-director of the city's health bureau, said 1,241 HIV infections and 140 Aids cases had been reported since the first case was discovered in 1986. Forty people have died from Aids-related illnesses. 'In the past, 90 per cent of the cases were drug users, but the trend is towards ordinary people in the past three years. The number of new cases has stabilised but there are more cases that are sexually transmitted,' he said. Mr Yao said more cases were being discovered among women, including housewives infected by their husbands who had had contact with sex workers. He did not provide any figures. Attitudes towards sex are becoming more liberal in Guangzhou, but health workers say conservative views still hamper their efforts to educate people about sexually transmitted diseases. 'This is a traditional society. Sex is still a taboo subject,' said Mr Yao when asked if there would be more publicity in the media to promote the use of condoms. 'Advertising condoms may give the impression that we are encouraging people to have sexual experiences.' However, the bureau is determined to push ahead with sex education and is working in schools to teach students about safer sex. 'We think it is crucial to educate children from a young age to have healthy habits,' he said. The sex industry is illegal, so the bureau can only counsel sex workers at entertainment centres such as karaoke bars or after arrests. Information on the prevention of HIV/Aids is being sent to companies to be posted on noticeboards to reach migrant workers. Guangzhou, one of the country's most prosperous cities, does not have as big a problem funding its Aids programme as does Henan or Yunnan , but Mr Yao said he would like more funds. An Aids taskforce headed by Vice-Mayor Li Zhuobin will meet soon to draw up a plan of action for next year.