Boston Globe Examines HIV/AIDS Epidemic in Three Chinese Provinces
The Boston Globe on Monday examined the HIV/AIDS epidemic in China's Yunnan, Guangxi and Xinjiang provinces, which are home to about half of the country's HIV-positive people (Pocha, Boston Globe, 6/5). According to a report released in January by China's Ministry of Health, the World Health Organization and UNAIDS, an estimated 650,000 HIV-positive people lived in China in 2005, and 75,000 of those people have developed AIDS (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/7). Some experts say that there could be up to 200,000 HIV cases in Yunnan and 300,000 in Guangxi and Xinjiang. According to the Globe, the provinces' epidemics likely are the result of their proximity to the "world's largest heroin-producing regions" of Afghanistan, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand. In addition, a lack of HIV/AIDS education among drug users is common in many countries, the Globe reports. But in Yunnan and other western provinces the problem is compounded by the preexisting feeling of social dislocation within the region, which is China's poorest. Minority groups make up about 35 percent of the local population and often feel excluded from mainstream life in predominantly Han China. Although the government provides needle-exchange programs and medications to HIV-positive people at no cost, many heroin users avoid official centers where needles are distributed. In addition, the "bureaucratic processes" that HIV-positive people must go through to receive antiretroviral drugs are "so cumbersome" that fewer than 10,000 people are receiving treatment, the Globe reports. A "pre-existing feeling of social dislocation" in Yunnan and other western provinces, which are home to large minority populations, also "compound[s]" a lack of HIV/AIDS education and "alienation among hardened heroin users," according to the Globe (Boston Globe, 6/5).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.