Beijing hotels told to stock all rooms with condoms

BEIJING (Reuters) - Beijing, preparing to host the 2008 Olympics, has ordered hotels to provide condoms in all bedrooms in a bid to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS after cases of infection soared 54 percent in the first 10 months of this year.

Announcing the move, the official Xinhua news agency made no direct reference to the Games, saying only that all the Chinese capital’s 700 hotels must comply by the end of 2008.

With many thousands of visitors due to crowd into the city for the Olympics, which run from August 8 to August 24, every hotel is likely to be sold out.

While hotel managers must provide condoms for their guests, Xinhua said, they are not required to make a loss. The city health bureau said it was up to them how much to charge.

The State Council (Cabinet) urged local governments last year to provide access to condoms in all public places..

Beijing health authorities said this week that the city had registered 973 new HIV/AIDS cases between January and October. Needle sharing and unprotected sex were the main sources of transmission.

State media reported a total of 18,543 new cases of HIV/AIDS across the country in the first half of this year, close to the total for the whole of 2006

Reporting by Beijing newsroom, editing by Nick Macfie and Roger Crabb