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New Measures to Curb AIDS in Guangdong

Guangdong Province will pilot a methadone treatment program in three counties including Doumen, Yangdong and Taishan to prevent the spread of AIDS through drug users.


The program will be initiated after approval by the Ministry of Health, sources from a provincial meeting on the prevention of AIDS said Tuesday.


Methadone treatment can be an effective, inexpensive, and convenient way to manage an addiction to opiates, particularly for people who have tried other means of addressing their addiction, the Southern Metropolitan News reported.


Treatment consists of a prescribed daily dosage of methadone, based on patient's weight, usage, tolerance and withdrawal symptom history and medical history. The methadone is administered in liquid form.


Xu Reiheng, vice-chairman of the Disease Control and Prevention Center of Guangdong, said methadone was a good way to control an addiction.


Methadone maintenance was relatively inexpensive and the fee for daily treatment was less than 10 yuan (US$1.2), Xu said.


The three counties had started registering HIV carriers and drug addicts and commenced staff training, the report said Wednesday.


A program, which aims to strengthen monitoring of HIV carriers, was officially launched Tuesday. The entire province will establish a coordination system, set up an AIDS prevention committee and a consultation committee on AIDS according the requirements of the three-year program.


There will also be 30 monitoring centers established for HIV carriers and drug addicts, taking the number of monitoring centers to 47.


Guangdong ranks fifth in China in the number of HIV/AIDS carriers and patients, following Yunnan and Henan provinces, Xinjiang Ugyur and Guangxi Zhuang autonomous regions.


The province had 5,182 HIV/AIDS carriers, including 190 AIDS patients by the end of this March. Of these, 53 have died from the disease.


The actual number of HIV carriers is estimated at over 30,000, taking into consideration that the huge migrant population that has not taken a blood test.


Most of the carriers are in the Pearl River Delta. Carriers in Jiangmen, Zhongshan, Guangzhou and Yangjiang cities account for 68 percent of the total.


(Shenzhen Daily May 20, 2004)



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