• HIV attacks healthy immune cells, preventing them from being able to function properly.

HIV attacks healthy immune cells, preventing them from being able to function properly. (Photo : Reuters)

There are currently alarming rates of overseas Chinese workers contracting HIV/AIDS while abroad, something the National Health and Family Planning Commission blames on poor education and lack of information.

According to the Ministry of Commerce (MOC), around 562,000 Chinese citizens went to work abroad in 2014, but the number of them who have caught HIV/AIDS is not publicly known.

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According to the National Health and Family Planning Commission, 87 percent of overseas workers who are infected with HIV get it via sex.

A 2006 study by the Japan Center for International Exchange said that overseas workers are especially vulnerable to HIV infection because of limited knowledge, rarity of condom use and an attitude of invincibility.

While working abroad, overseas workers have some anonymity, allowing them not to be judged for their behavior as they satisfy their sexual needs, said the chair of an AIDS project by the Beijing Office of International Labor Organization.

Majority of Chinese overseas workers get infected with HIV/AIDS by having unprotected sex with prostitutes, according to Shen Jie, vice president with the Chinese Association of Sexually Transmitted Disease and AIDS Prevention and Control.

There have been reports of certain companies in countries like Nigeria and Tanzania offering employees with prostitutes.

According to a May 2014 report from the Shandong Province Department of Commerce, most Chinese workers that go abroad to work come from the countryside and are poorly educated.

A staff member of China Datang Overseas Investment Company said that workers who go abroad are meant to receive training before going overseas, but AIDS prevention is not usually a part of that training.

Overseas workers face many problems once they are infected. Many companies fire employees upon finding out they have HIV/AIDS.

"I don't hang out with my colleagues outside of work and only look for jobs which don't require a health exam," said Xiao Kong, who returned home to China after he got HIV/AIDS and was fired from his job in Nigeria.

Xiao said that he was infected after helping a bleeding local in Nigeria, not from sex, but employers do not usually care how the HIV was contracted.