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China backtracks on plan to ban people with HIV from baths

China's Commerce Ministry has begun to back away from a proposal to ban people living with HIV from public bathhouses, according to The Associated Press.

Proposed regulations for public bathhouses released by the ministry for public comment included the ban.

Much of the criticism of the plan has come from other government agencies.

"Over so many years, there has been no epidemiological investigation showing anybody being infected because of exposure in public bathhouses," said Wu Hao, a Beijing researcher quoted on the website of a national AIDS prevention center overseen by the National Health and Family Planning Commission.

"It seems to have gone too far to bar HIV patients from entering baths," he was quoted as saying.

Days after the proposal was published, an official in the Commerce Ministry was quoted as saying the ban would be removed from the regulations if health experts deemed it unnecessary.

Zhang Beichuan, China's leading scholar on gay issues, said the Commerce Ministry took a step in the wrong direction by failing to consult health experts.

"Had they ever approached any expert beforehand, they would be told by them that HIV cannot be transmitted through exposure in public bathhouses. The possibility does not exist," Zhang said, according to The AP report.

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