What's New HIV Prevention and Education Treatment and Research Care and Support
Countering Drug Use Tops Anti-AIDS Agenda

China's southwestern Dehong prefecture is stepping up efforts to counter drug trafficking and help drug addicts. These efforts "top the regional anti-AIDS agenda".

The Dai-Jingpo Autonomous Prefecture of Dehong, an area inhabited by the Dai and Jingpo people in southwest China's Yunnan Province, is a major route for drugs smuggled out of the Southeast Asia's drug-flooded "Golden Triangle" region.

Teng Yun, vice director of the Dehong HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Office, attributed Dehong's serious drug addiction problem to easy access to low priced drugs.

"AIDS cannot be contained unless the drug problem is addressed", said Teng.

A census in January 2005 showed that Dehong had 25,000 identified drug addicts, 87.3 percent of whom were rural drug users.

It is highly risky for rural drug users to share needles when they work in fields. This exposes them to HIV, Teng said.

In the first half of 2005, 74.6 percent of Dehong's more than 8,000 identified HIV carriers were mainline drug users. Mainline drug use is the most serious method of HIV infection.

Statistics from 2004 show that 1,544 HIV patients died in Dehong, ranking it the hardest HIV-hit area in the province and leaving about 500 children orphaned by AIDS.

Due to a large budget deficit, Dehong has great difficulty countering drug trafficking and preventing HIV/AIDS.

Last year, the central government increased Dehong's anti-AIDS budget to 10 million yuan (US$ 1.2 million) and improved labs for HIV virus confirmation, personnel training and public education.

With central government's support, Dehong established 7 syringe and needle exchange centers in 2003 that offer clean instruments for drug users to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Teng said the central government is going to expand local drug rehabilitation centers aiming to shelter 16,000 drug addicts in the region.

Since June 2005, Ruili city in Dehong prefecture has been employing a methadone substitute to treat drug addiction.

Dehong has also adopted measures such as behavioral therapy via publicity and peer education to treat drug addicts and contain HIV/AIDS.

Currently, China has 840,000 HIV carriers including 80,000 AIDS patients. The epidemic has spread throughout the country and is being transferred to ordinary people by such high-risk groups as underground prostitutes, drug users, homosexuals and migrant workers.

(Xinhua News Agency October 13, 2005)

Copyright © China Internet Information Center. All Rights Reserved E-mail: webmaster@china.org.cn Tel: 86-10-68326688