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Beijing colleges say no to free condom
Updated: 2004-11-25 09:11

Two top Beijing universities have suspended a programme to distribute free condoms to students to prevent HIV/AIDS, frowning on it as "inappropriate".

Administrators at prestigious Peking University and Tsinghua University prevented the handout going ahead Tuesday, saying it was not acceptable and that organizers had not obtained approval.

"We should put more emphasis on guiding college students not to have pre-marital sex," Zhou Baohua, head of Peking University's hospital, was quoted by the Xinhua news agency as saying Wednesday.

"Condom use only serves as a secondary method for educating those who can't control themselves."

The program was to hand out 1,500 free condoms at Beijing University and 1,000 at Tsinghua, said organizers who are from the disease prevention center in Beijing's Haidian district, where many colleges are located.

Instead, the schools placed the condoms at clinics and Red Cross offices on campus.

The universities were among 34 colleges in Beijing where condoms were to be distributed under the program. Several other campuses did not object to the handouts.

"AIDS is already around these college youth though many of them might think it is far far away," Sun Peiyuan, one of the organizers, was quoted by Xinhua as saying.

Despite the urgent need to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS, conservative attitudes about sex in China often keep the prevention message from being broadly publicized.

Universities fear handing out condoms would be seen as promoting sex. College administrators in China discourage students from dating, much less having pre-marital sex. There have been cases of schools punishing student couples for openly showing affection.

HIV infections are rising rapidly in China. The UN warned there could be 10 million cases by 2010 unless urgent action is taken.

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