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China Sets First AIDS Legal Research Center

China's first legal research center on AIDS-related issues has been established in east China's Shanghai City, indicating that the country is making more efforts to curb rocketing spread of AIDS virus within its territory.


Comprising eight consultants and 13 researchers, the center is supposed to carry out AIDS-related activities like academic research, social probe, legal aid and writing legislative proposal."


"AIDS is accelerating its spread in China at a horrible speed of 30-40 percent every year. It is not only a medical issue but a serious social one," said director Yan Shaogang, also an experienced lawyer who works as a councilor of the Shanghai Municipal government.


Yang said laws should be updated according to the country's current situation instead of lagging behind.


China now has more than 300 laws and regulations on AIDS prevention and control, which were framed by both central government and local governments at all levels, with some even taking AIDS as a venereal disease and imposing some unreasonable duties on the AIDS patients, which infringed AIDS patients' residence rights, employment rights, education rights, and marriage rights as well as privacy and caused great panic in society.


Experts from various fields consider the center of great importance since it starts the first of its kind to explore legal protection of HIV/AIDS patients in China.


The recent amendment draft to China's 15-year-old law on contagious disease prevention and control has canceled forcible isolation of HIV/AIDS patients, an important legal step to eliminate bias against HIV/AIDS patients.


It also dropped the AIDS prevention and control management standard from the highest level to the medium level, canceling requiring forcible isolation of HIV/AIDS patients any more.


"Our practices in the past is that every HIV/AIDS patient must be isolated, even by use of police force. You know, forcible isolation is not always necessary, " said Yang.


As another major effort to curb AIDS, China's Ministry of Public Health announced on April 5 a list of 51 pilot zones in 11 provinces, in a bid to work out an effective AIDS preventative and treatment mechanism through pilot programs.


It is reported that China now has 840,000 HIV carriers, including 80,000 AIDS patients. The UN has warned China that cases could reach 20 million by 2010, if drastic actions were not immediately taken.


(Xinhua News Agency April 8, 2004)


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