Prostitutes from China might have become a major cause for concern in connection with the increase of AIDS in Taiwan due to frequent cross-strait exchanges, a Taipei city councilor claimed on Thursday.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) councilor Chen Yung-teh (陳永德), who aired the concern at a question-and-answer session at the Taipei City Council, said only 96 Chinese prostitutes were detained by police last year, none of whom had AIDS -- compared with 625 arrested Taiwanese prostitutes, of whom seven had AIDS.
In the first three months of this year, none of the nine prostitutes from China detained by police tested HIV-positive, while four of the 89 local prostitutes caught by police had AIDS, Chen said.
In 2004, 331 sex workers from China were detained by police, with one testing HIV-positive. In 2003, 799 were arrested, two of whom had AIDS.
The sharp fall in the number of Chinese prostitutes seized by police might be an indication that more and more sex workers from China have entered Taiwan on the pretext of a marriage of convenience, Chen said.
With police figures suggesting it is becoming harder to crack down on prostitution by illegal Chinese immigrants, those hiding out in Taiwan might be a major channel for spreading AIDS, he said.
Municipal police and public health officials acknowledged that it is difficult to track sex workers from China and that it might have become a loophole in the city government's efforts to wipe out the sex trade, because Chinese prostitutes are carefully controlled by human-trafficking rings.