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HIV Testing Strategies Among High-Risk Groups

Armen Hareyan's picture

China Daily on Wednesday examined how health authorities in some Chinese provinces are making HIV tests mandatory for various high-risk groups as HIV continues to spread to the general public. Policymakers in the Hunan province in central China recently made HIV tests mandatory for massage parlor workers, and policymakers in China's Henan province gave the same order in 2006, China Daily reports.

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China's Regulation on AIDS Prevention and Treatment states that mandatory HIV tests should be used only for pregnant women and blood and sperm donors, but many health authorities support mandatory testing rather than voluntary counseling and testing. According to China Daily, the Chinese government typically does not discipline provincial governments that violate the voluntary counseling and testing rule and require HIV tests for certain groups.

Wang Laoshi, a volunteer with a Beijing-based AIDS care organization, said mandatory HIV testing is an "efficient way of curbing the spread of HIV/AIDS," adding that high-risk groups, such as commercial sex workers, "should be responsible for themselves and their clients." Jing Jun, a sociology professor at Tsinghua University, said that voluntary testing is "better" than mandatory testing. "Without introducing counseling and help services earlier, the government missed the chance to spread prevention knowledge and raise AIDS awareness," Jing said.

According to official statistics, there are about 3,000 voluntary testing sites throughout China, but only about 30% of the population is aware of the sites, Xia Guomei, a professor at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, said. The Chinese government estimates that there are 650,000 HIV-positive people nationwide, but only 60,000 have received HIV tests (Shan, China Daily, 8/8).