UK
16/10/2013 09:21 BST

China Moves To Ban People With HIV And Those With STI's From Public Baths

China's move to ban HIV patients from using public bathhouses has been roundly condemned by activists in the country and abroad.

According to the 2012, figures China has 430,000 people infected with HIV, though the true figure could be far more, because of the stigma associated with the disease.

China's State Council has begun a consultation on the new ruling, which would order public bathhouses to ban "people with sexually transmitted diseases, Aids and infectious skin diseases," according to the BBC.

hiv china

Primary school students present giant and small red ribbons during an event on the eve of the World AIDS Day in Wuyuan, in southern China

Public bathhouses are largely unregulated, and the proposal is part of a swathe of new health and safety regulations set to be passed by the National People’s Congress next year.

The proposal has been condemned by the United Nations' Aids agency. Hedia Belhadj, China country coordinator for UNAIDS, told AFP the body was concerned by the provision and called for it to be removed, stressing there was no risk of transmission of HIV in a spa or bathhouse setting.

"UNAIDS recommends that restrictions preventing people living with HIV from accessing bath houses, spas and other similar facilities be removed from the final draft of this policy," Belhadj said.

The Beijing News condemned the proposed ban in an editorial leader on Tuesday, saying: “It is evident that these regulations violate the law, are contrary to scientific consensus and are openly discriminatory against HIV-positive people,” it read.

But the South China Morning Post reported that almost three in four Chinese favour the ban.

Out of the more than 10,000 people who participated in the Sina Weibo survey, 72.9 per cent said they wanted HIV-positive people banned for “safety reasons”.