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China to
prosecute deliberate HIV infections

China to
prosecute deliberate HIV infections

China will prosecute people who deliberately infect others with HIV, state media said on Wednesday.

"Those who know they are infected with AIDS or are sick with AIDS and deliberately infect others will be severely punished according to the law," the Beijing News reported, based on an unnamed police officer's speech to an AIDS prevention workshop.

The News provided no details on what kind of sentences would be meted out, nor how police would prove someone had knowingly passed on HIV.

Police would also deal just as severely with criminal suspects who have HIV or AIDS as those who do not, the report said. It also quoted an unnamed official from the State Council's AIDS prevention office, who said, "For criminal suspects infected with AIDS, they cannot not be dealt with or given free rein just because they are infected."

China has been grappling with a surge in the number of HIV and AIDS cases, which the government last month said had risen almost 30% so far this year.

An estimated 650,000 people are living with HIV or AIDS in China, and health experts say the disease is moving into the general population.

Drug abuse this year accounted for 37% of the new infections whose transmission routes had been determined, while unsafe sexual contact had caused 28%, the Health Ministry said in November.

The official Xinhua news agency added in a late-night report seen on Wednesday that police would crack down on places where AIDS might spread, such as illegal blood collection centers and places were drug users and sex workers congregate.

HIV and AIDS became a major problem in China in the 1990s when hundreds of thousands of impoverished farmers became infected through botched blood-selling schemes. After initially being slow to acknowledge the threat, China has stepped up the fight against the disease, increasing spending on prevention programs and implementing antidiscrimination legislation.

But some nongovernmental groups have complained of police harassment when carrying out AIDS prevention work, and the United Nations' main AIDS body has said the good intentions of the central government were not always enforced at the local level. (Reuters)

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