An estimated 30-40 percent of Vietnamese prostitutes are infected with HIV, according to an announcement made Wednesday by the Social Ills Prevention Department in Ho Chi Minh City.
"Prostitutes have the third highest rate of HIV infection after drug users and homosexual men," said the department deputy chief Le Thi Ha.
The rate of HIV-infected sex workers is higher in the northern and southeastern regions, where the limited use of condoms during prostitution is blamed for the rate.
According to statistics from the Health Ministry, there were 25,000 men who contracted HIV from prostitutes but the number more than doubled to 60,000 in 2005.
A report by HCMC Department of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs showed that nowadays prostitutes have more ways to seek clients thanks to advanced technology: they can use social networks, online websites or 3G mobile phones.
Some 20,000 prostitutes are operating in HCMC, with the majority of them coming from other cities and provinces.
Up north, there are some 7,000 prostitutes in Hanoi, with 80 percent of them being HIV positive.
The prostitutes are aware of their high risk of HIV infection but seldom seek public health services or safe sex practice programs, according to the Hanoi Bureau of Social Ills Prevention.