Federal Study: $2.6 Million to Study Chinese Prostitutes

Thursday, 14 May 2009 10:19 PM

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The U.S. government is spending $2.6 million to make sure prostitutes in China consume less alcohol while working, according to Fox News.

As part of the five-year study that the National Institutes of Health bankrolled, researchers are visiting more than 100 houses of prostitution to monitor their employees, designated as FSWs, or female sex workers. Pimps and madams are referred to as "gatekeepers" in the study's abstract, according to Fox.

The project is using a grant from the NIH's National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, which also is funding a $400,000 study of bars in Buenos Aires to find out why gay men engage in risky sexual behavior while drunk.

Phase one of the China study will examine "alcohol use/abuse and related sexual risk among FSWs in China," according to the abstract — a cold hard look at why prostitutes engage in dangerous sex while drunk.

Once the data is collected, prevention programs will be designed. The first prong of the Chinese intervention program involves "gatekeeper training," which means teaching pimps and madams to enhance the culture of safe sex in their brothels.

The study's director, Dr. Xiaoming Li of Wayne State University in Michigan, then hopes to persuade the prostitutes to drink less and use condoms more while they're on the job. The study, tailored specifically for use in China, was approved in November, and the government has already spent $469,903 to fund it.

What’s not clear is why the Chinese aren’t paying for it.

"The proposed intervention program will be a cultural adaptation and integration of existing evidence-based programs in Asian settings," reads the study's abstract, which singles out China as a special challenge because of unique cultural circumstances (and 10 million working prostitutes) there.

Li, who did not respond to calls and e-mails from FoxNews.com seeking comment, told CNS News that because prostitution occurs with alcohol use in the United States, just as it does in China, Americans will be able to benefit from the project's findings.

"We want to get some understanding of the fundamental role of alcohol use and HIV risk," he said. "We use the population in China as our targeted population to look at the basic issues. I think the findings will benefit the American people, too."

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