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Regulation to Promote AIDS Victims' Rights

Legal rights of AIDS patients and HIV carriers are to be guaranteed when Shanghai's first HIV/AIDS prevention and control regulation is mapped out next year.

Reliable sources said that a thorough investigating process over the past year will culminate with local legislative, medical experts, government officials and related members having revised a draft regulation that will be submitted to the Municipal People's Congress for review in March 2005.

"The local regulation will highlight the legal rights (such as education and privacy) of HIV/AIDS victims as well as their obligations," said Lu Xiaowen, a researcher at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, who participated in revising the draft.

Meanwhile, the regulation will also provide legal support for a series of preventive measures, such as promoting condom use among illegal sex workers, providing clean tools and methodone maintenance treatment for drug users, according to Zhu Huimin, director of the Health Policy Department at the Shanghai Health Bureau.

"Such practices have been proven successful in developed countries, and Shanghai enjoys the financial and management advantages to stipulate their use here," Lu told China Daily.

But the legislative progress is difficult because of the pressure from other departments, and the conflicts between present regulations and laws.

Xia Guomei, director of the Research Center for HIV/AIDS Public Policy at the academy, said under the present law and regulations, drug users and illegal sex workers should undertake compulsory drug rehabitation and be kept apart from the public, which are obstacles for HIV/AIDS prevention and control.

Since 2002, some local governments such as the nearby Suzhou, have implemented regulations on HIV/AIDS prevention and control, but it will take a long time to map out a national regulation. The regulation in Shanghai will put in place suggestions for national AIDS legislation, commented Wang Ruotao, a researcher at the National Centre for AIDS Control and Prevention.

As a mega city with a population of 16 million, Shanghai faces an increasing challenge from HIV/AIDS because of large floating population - estimated at over 4 million.

Statistics from the Shanghai Centre for Disease Prevention and Control show that about 74 per cent of new AIDS/HIV cases found this year in the city involve migrant people from 17 provinces.

Medical experts say young and middle-aged people, the most sexually active groups, make up nearly 80 per cent of the floating population.

"Within a couple of years, cities, especially big cities like Shanghai, will face a real problem because sexual transmission will eventually become the main channel for the spread of HIV," predicted Professor Kang Laiyi at the Shanghai AIDS/HIV Surveillance Centre.

Kang said the changes in people's sex concepts and behaviors (such as multiple sex partners) make prevention and control more difficult.

Lu suggests delivering condoms to the local floating populations and promoting public education among them.

(China Daily December 20, 2004)

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