Central China's Henan Province has just concluded a general investigation on residents who sold blood before 1995, so that first-hand information on the number of HIV/AIDS patients can be obtained.
Henan has long been plagued with the highest number of HIV/AIDS patients in China, which is mainly because of illegal blood selling about a decade ago. Local health official Liu Xuezhou explains why such a thorough investigation was conducted.
"Our purpose is to count the number of HIV carriers, AIDS patients, and people who have sold blood before 1995, so that we'll have scientific foundation for our work on AIDS prevention and treatment."
To ease the misgiving of the local people, the government has promised to keep all information confidential, and hot lines are being set up to answer questions from residents.
What's more and most important to the local people, all the tests are free of charge. For those who are working in other places and return home for the tests, they can get subsidies for their train tickets and missed working hours. And if the person chooses to take a test in the city where he or she is working, the provincial government will foot the bill.
So Henan residents no longer hesitate to do the tests, and are also persuading friends and relatives to join them. Here is a villager who returned home specially for the test.
"I was working in Xinyang. My family called me and asked me back home. The government has paid for my train ticket and compensated me for lost working hours. I happily took the test."
With sufficient finance and advanced testing techniques, all the tests have been completed in only one month, and the final results are due out soon. Experts say such a move will effectively help curb the spread of the deadly disease in the province.
(CRI September 3, 2004)