Taiwan Releases More Than 9,000 Inmates

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A total of 9,597 inmates, including 644 living with HIV, were releasedfrom Taiwanese prisons on Monday because of a commutation statute tomark the 20th anniversary of the end of martial law in the country, theMinistry of Justice announced recently, the CNA/Taipei Timesreports. According to the ministry, 24,726 inmates are scheduled to bereleased by the end of the month under the commutation statute and2,791 of them will need after-care assistance. Minister of JusticeMorley Shih said that the ministry will take increased measures toassist HIV-positive drug users in rehabilitation to prevent the spreadof HIV. He added that the Taiwan Aftercare Association on Monday sentstaff to prisons nationwide to distribute HIV/AIDS prevention, drugrehabilitation and methadone substitution pamphlets (Taipei Times, 7/17).

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HealthMinister Hou Sheng-mao on Saturday said the release of the inmates willpresent a significant challenge for HIV/AIDS prevention efforts, the Taipei Timesreports. "We will have to ensure that newly paroled HIV-positivepatients are integrated back into society without spreading the virus,"he told an audience of business leaders, advocates and public healthexperts at an HIV/AIDS summit in Taipei. The summit was sponsored bythe Taiwan AIDS Foundation. He added that the battle against AIDS is a"war we have to win."

Hou also highlighted the country'sprogress in reducing stigma and discrimination against HIV-positivepeople. "We now have laws protecting the right of HIV-positive patientsto live and work without harassment or discrimination," Hou said inreference to the HIV Prevention and Patients' Rights Protection Act,which was amended last month. The act protects HIV-positive people frombeing denied employment, medical treatment, housing or education. Theact also protects residents who contracted HIV from their spouses frombeing deported.

Stephen Young, director of the Taipei Office of the American Institute in Taiwan,called on businesses to join efforts to fight HIV/AIDS and reducediscrimination against those who are living with the disease (Oung, Taipei Times, 7/14). POZ magazine Editor-in-Chief Regan Hofmann also spoke at the forum, the CNA/Taiwan Newsreports. She said people living with HIV/AIDS in Taiwan are at a uniqueadvantage because they receive full medical coverage from thegovernment. "This is one of the reasons why Taiwan is in an idealposition to curb the disease," Hofmann said. According to YangShih-yang, an official with Taiwan's Centers for Disease Control,Taiwan's harm-reduction projects for injection drug users have beensuccessful. The projects provide access to 60,000 clean needles in 864locations throughout Taiwan with the goal of reducing the number ofpeople who use injection drugs (Wang, CNA/Taiwan News, 7/15).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser DailyHIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . TheKaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service ofThe Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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