Image credit: iStock/SerengetiLion Image credit: iStock/SerengetiLion

Police in China who look for condoms as evidence of prostitution are putting sex workers at risk and undermining efforts to reduce HIV infection, according to a new report.

Asia Catalyst, a nonprofit organisation, published the report after interviewing over 500 female, male and transgender sex workers in three of China's major cities. The report found that prostitutes were less likely to carry condoms with them if they had previously been questioned by the police.

Condoms have been categorised as a "tool of offence" by the Ministry of Public Security as sex work is illegal throughout China. They can be used as a deciding factor when it comes to either arresting a prostitute or giving penalties.

Karyn Kaplan, executive director of Asia Catalyst said: "Law enforcement actions are having a profound effect on sex workers’ health and safety, including on condom use and behaviors.

“Sex workers are more likely to agree to client demands to not use condoms, reduce the number of condoms they carry or try various methods to hide condoms.”

The report suggests that between late 2014 to August 2015, almost half (48 per cent) of prostitutes who were questioned by police used condoms consistently. This is compared to 68 per cent who had never been interrogated by police.

Being questioned by police can reduce the likelihood of a sex worker using condoms, which can lead to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and HIV.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 575,000 people across China had HIV in 2015. The main way people in the country get infected is through unprotected sex.

Ms Kaplan said: " Not only is this increasing HIV vulnerability, but it is making a mockery of a parallel government condom distribution effort among this highly marginalised group."

Some provinces of China have carried out work in an attempt to control the spread of STDs, but police interference is still stopping condom use.

g efforts to reduce HIV infection, according to a new report.

Asia Catalyst, a nonprofit organisation, published the report after interviewing over 500 female, male and transgender sex workers in three of China's major cities. The report found that prostitutes were less likely to carry condoms with them if they had previously been questioned by the police.

Condoms have been categorised as a "tool of offence" by the Ministry of Public Security as sex work is illegal throughout China. They can be used as a deciding factor when it comes to either arresting a prostitute or giving penalties.

Karyn Kaplan, executive director of Asia Catalyst said: "Law enforcement actions are having a profound effect on sex workers’ health and safety, including on condom use and behaviors.

“Sex workers are more likely to agree to client demands to not use condoms, reduce the number of condoms they carry or try various methods to hide condoms.”

The report suggests that between late 2014 to August 2015, almost half (48 per cent) of prostitutes who were questioned by police used condoms consistently. This is compared to 68 per cent who had never been interrogated by police.

Being questioned by police can reduce the likelihood of a sex worker using condoms, which can lead to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and HIV.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 575,000 people across China had HIV in 2015. The main way people in the country get infected is through unprotected sex.

Ms Kaplan said: " Not only is this increasing HIV vulnerability, but it is making a mockery of a parallel government condom distribution effort among this highly marginalised group."

Some provinces of China have carried out work in an attempt to control the spread of STDs, but police interference is still stopping condom use.