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Over 100 community clinics devoted to the rehabilitation of heroin addicts have been established in China since 2003.

A national conference designed to raise awareness of methadone maintenance treatment for heroin addiction in Wuhan, capital of central China's Hubei Province, revealed that trial operation of the clinics which cover 21 provinces and autonomous regions is an attempt to reduce drug abuse and prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.

According to an expert from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention who spoke at the meeting, China will approve the establishment of another batch of the small-sized medical facilities this year. A total of 128 clinics have received the green light to begin operations since 2003.

Drug injections are seen as a key channel for the spread of AIDS. It's estimated that over 40 percent of AIDS patients and HIV virus carriers in China, which totaled a reported 650 thousand in China last year, were infected via contaminated needles. 

Wang Xiangdong, an official with China's anti-drug agency, said that the trial project is an important part of the country's campaign to reduce the impact of the drugs. Public security departments will cooperate in verifying the profiles of heroin users and requirement for admission for treatment, and supervising them in receiving the treatment.

Methadone is a synthetic agent that works by "occupying" the brain receptor sites affected by heroin and other opiates. Maintenance treatment allows addicted individuals to receive daily doses of Methadone, helping drug injecting users reduce or stop their dangerous habit.

China's methadone maintenance treatment campaign mainly aims to shrink the country's local drug markets, reduce or stop the use of injections and effectively reduce the risk of acquiring or transmitting diseases such as AIDS.

The programs also aim to curb the criminal activities of the addicts, increase their employment potential as well as help to restore or improve family stability.

(CRI March 27, 2006)

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