Asian Sex Trade Promotes AIDS

HANOI, Vietnam-The sex trade in Asia is growing quickly, leaving AIDS victims in its wake.

While many countries in Asia are trying desperately to educate the public about method of infection and prevention of the disease, the attitudes of people are changing and becoming more dangerous.

The sex industry is slowly moving from the red light districts into bars, karaoke parlors, and restaurants. Prostitution is often a part-time occupation and students often pay for their studies by selling sex.

These changes in perspective are keeping officials from the World Health Organization (WHO) on their toes, searching for new solutions to the growing epidemic. There are an estimated 6 million people in Asia infected with AIDS. More than 3.9 of these people live in India, although Cambodia has the highest rate of infection-some 2.8% within the adult population. Researchers estimate there will be more than 800,000 Asian dying annually from the virus by 2005.

Although there are more government programs offering condoms and education, the sex industry is big business for many countries. Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand attribute an estimated 2-14% of their gross domestic product to the sex industry. In industrialized Japan, the sex industry is also a problem, with 1-3% of their GDP coming from similar earnings.

Information from the Associated Press