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Yunnan: Real Names Required for Taking HIV/AIDS Tests
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Yunnan Province, a region severely afflicted by HIV/AIDS in China's southwest, has ordered people to provide their real names when taking HIV/AIDS tests.

"Real names and contact details will help medical workers be able to offer follow-up treatment if people are confirmed to be HIV carriers," said Lu Lin, director of the Disease Prevention and Control Center of Yunnan Province.

"This will enable people to receive free medical treatment as soon as possible," he said.

"Local people have been supplying false personal information when taking HIV/AIDS tests because they were afraid of their friends and families finding out that they had the disease," Lu said.

"But it meant they missed the best time for treatment, since medical workers could not always reach the victims," Lu said.

Lu also pledged to protect the privacy of test takers.

"Medical workers will be prosecuted if they leak the personal information of HIV carriers and AIDS patients," he said.

Yunnan, bordering Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar in the south and west and near the notorious "Golden Triangle", has China's worst HIV/AIDS figures.

HIV/AIDS cases have been found in 128 of the province's 129 counties, according to the Provincial Committee of AIDS Prevention and Control.

By the end of September last year, Yunnan had recorded 47,314 people living with HIV/AIDS, accounting for about a quarter of the national total.

More than 150,000 people volunteered to take HIV/AIDS test in the province last year, an increase of 30,000 over the previous year, Lu said.

Currently, Yunnan has 210 labs for HIV/AIDS screening and diagnosis, and the number may be raised in the future, though as much as 200,000 yuan (US$25,000) is needed to establish one lab, he said.

Yunnan has also ordered residents to take compulsory but free HIV/AIDS tests before marriage and will inform prospective spouses of the results. 

(Xinhua News Agency January 18, 2007)

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