One hospital in China is raising eyebrows by requesting the blood of female virgins for medical testing, according to the state-run China Daily.
The Peking University Cancer Hospital wants to research the HPV virus, a sexually-transmitted illness that can cause genital warts in addition to cervical cancer, and wants to collect blood from 100 healthy virgins between the ages of 18 and 24 years.
Some citizens are offended by the request, accusing the hospital of sexism. One user of Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, posted, "Male virgins are not needed, just females, how is this science?"
China is known for glorifying female virginity, as indicated by the recent spike in “virginity-restoration” surgery and a male demand for virgin brides. Some women attach artificial hymens to reenact the de-flowering experience even after they have had sex, presumably for the benefit of their mates.
But according to a hospital spokesperson, the request is "in line with international practice to collect female virgins' blood samples, which serve as negative control substances in HPV research, given that the risk of contracting HPV is low among women who have never had sex."
One Sina Weibo user defended the hospital, posting, "People who curse are basically those who haven't understood the whole story. Learn some science and rationality, rather than criticizing others."
The hospital will not perform any tests to verify the “pureness” of its blood donors, but rather will rely on the honor system.
Although one can only speculate on the prejudices of hospital researchers, the risk of having a sexually transmitted disease rises substantially after having intercourse. One study of women in Southern China found that 10 percent of women tested positive for HPV, with women ages 20 to 29 at the highest risk.
Regardless of the need for virgin blood to study HPV, the outcry clearly demonstrates frustration felt by the women of China, who appear tired of societal pressure to abstain from sex.