China has so far built 128 methadone clinics since February 2003, when the country began to embrace the practice of setting up community-based centers offering methadone to heroin addicts.
Of the total, 29 are in southwest China's Yunnan, a province that shares border with Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar, according to an on-going national exchange meeting on experimental work concerning community methadone substitution medication for heroin addicts.
The Chinese government initiated in May 2001 an action plan for curbing and preventing AID/HIV during the 2001-2005 period, trumpeting the idea of carrying out an experimental work with methadone substitution medication among heroin addicts at community-based medical organizations.
In cooperation with the State Food and Drug Administration, the Chinese ministries of health and public security embarked on the experimental work concerning community methadone substitution medication for heroin addicts by drafting a provisional plan on the experimental work in February 2003, plus a joint national working group for the effort.
And eight medical organizations in Sichuan, Zhejiang, Yunnan, Guizhou provinces and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region were chosen as the first group of organizations authorized to conduct the experimental work in December 2003.
According to experts, taking methadone -- a synthesized narcotic -- helps depress addicts' drug desire and avoid the use of hypodermic needles that can spread HIV which leads to AIDS currently with no-cure, as well as other blood-transmitted diseases. Moreover, those who take methadone are able to work and return to normal life instead of looking sleepy all day after taking heroin.
Government regulations stipulate that only drug users who have been discharged from official detoxification centers can qualify for the methadone program.
China now has about 840,000 HIV carriers, including some 80,000 AIDS patients, and sharing of hypodermic syringes is considered as an important way for AID/HIV spreading.
(Xinhua News Agency December 28, 2005)