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China continues
to wrestle with AIDS crisis

China continues
to wrestle with AIDS crisis

China has witnessed a dramatic surge in intravenous drug use and a concurrent rise in AIDS cases in the mostly Muslim region of Xinjiang, TheNew York Times reported over the weekend.

Xinjiang, a region of about 20 million people near the border with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, has approximately 60,000 officially documented HIV infections. It contains 10% of China's AIDS cases and has the highest HIV infection rate in the country. Public health experts dispute official figures, insisting that actual HIV/AIDS figures are much higher and rising quickly.

Until recently, drug addicts were left to law enforcement and denied proper medical care. The widely held perception of illicit drug use as a moral or legal concern rather than a true public health issue has prevented those in need from getting necessary treatment.

"Some cadres are not willing to launch a public campaign against AIDS, fearing it would affect their image and investment in their locality," said Parhat Halik, deputy commissioner for Kashgar Prefecture in Xinjiang, in a speech in June. "Some are still having endless debates about whether to promote the use of condoms, methadone treatment and needle-exchange programs, or standing in the way of initiatives to work with high-risk groups. That is our biggest problem in the fight against AIDS."

Since 2005, however, authorities in Xinjiang have implemented a variety of approaches from needle exchanges to drug substitution and community outreach programs. These new progressive tactics, coupled with Beijing's recently opened gay men's sexual health clinic, demonstrate how China has finally begun to take significant action in fighting the AIDS epidemic. (The Advocate)

Advocate Magazine - KehlaniAdvocate Magazine - Gus Kenworthy

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