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Center to Monitor AIDS Public Policy

The fight against HIV/AIDS will enter a new phase as social scientists and medical researchers join forces to combat the spread of the illness.

A new think-tank, unveiled on Friday at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, will try to develop social and policy alternatives to combat the spread of the disease.

"During multiple-perspective research on the social problem, we aim to figure out the obstacles for HIV/AIDS control and prevention, and then raise suggestions for the government to make or change polices," said Xia Guomei, director of the Research Center for HIV/AIDS Public Policy.

As a social science researcher, Xia has focused on HIV/AIDS and related social problems for over 10 years.

"The crucial chain to improve HIV/AIDS prevention is to change the public policy makers' attitude and opinions," she added.

Meanwhile, experts from legal and medical circles said that raising the level of public awareness, fighting discrimination against victims and reducing unsafe activities are crucial to HIV/AIDS prevention.

Within two years, the center will help the city government revise its regulations on HIV/AIDS prevention while identifying patient's rights, privacy protection and other controversial problems.

"The regulation will back up prevention from the legal angle. Meanwhile, some successful practices in foreign countries will be explored in Shanghai such as the use of condoms among high-risk groups and safe injections among drug users," said Zhu Huimin, an official from the city's Health Bureau.

By the end of last year, Shanghai had reported a total of 911 HIV/AIDS patients. But the metropolis is facing an increasing threat from the epidemic due to its large floating population, more than 4 million among its 17 million residents. And it will get huge numbers of visitors by 2010 when the city hosts "World Expo."

(China Daily February 21, 2004)

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