Nov 27, 2012 03:13 PM

Closer look: Efforts to Protect HIV/AIDS Patients' Rights Fall Short


Students at Yangzhou Medical Institute formed a red ribbon November 2011 to call for attention on HIV/AIDS

A research paper released at a recent seminar says that in comparison with international HIV/AIDS prevention policies, China puts more emphasis on prevention and control than on the protection of patients' rights.

Worryingly, the report, released at a seminar at Renmin University of China School of Law, said the country's HIV/AIDS epidemic was severe.

In regions where rates of sexually transmitted diseases are the highest, such as Yunnan Province in southwestern China, infected populations tend to spread this disease.

Meanwhile, the government's policies and regulations don't protect HIV/AIDS patients, particularly with regard to their medical treatment, schooling and employment.

"As we found in our research, there are contradictions and conflicts between policies and regulations at all levels," said Lin Jia, vice dean of Renmin's law school.

"For a number of policies aiming at protecting HIV/AIDS patients, there is a lack of actionable supporting policies. This means that some regulations are in effect empty and impossible to apply."
The report cites a case involving the board of education of Anqing, in the eastern province of Anhui, which was sued by an AIDS patient. The person had passed the teacher recruitment exams, but when the board learned he was ill, it decided not to hire him.

Although the country's AIDS Prevention and Control Act says HIV-infected persons, AIDS patients and their families are free to enjoy equal marriage, employment, medical care and education rights, the research shows violation of these rights is widespread.

The research, conducted in Beijing, Yunnan and the central province of Henan, also found that HIV-positive people were often victims of discrimination. In particular, they encountered barriers when applying for employment that required a health certificate.

The problems ran even deeper. The report said that "although AIDS patients are eligible for a minimal subsistence allowance, this allowance is so low that some of this population has to resort to crime."

Migrant workers with no registered addresses are not eligible for the subsistence allowance. By the end of May 2010, there were 7,652 people with HIV or AIDS living in Beijing. Of this number, 74.3 percent did not have a Beijing home registration.

Since these people were not fully integrated into the prevention and control system, the chances the disease could be spread were higher, and monitoring and prevention efforts were more difficult.

"In many other countries, the care and relief policies for HIV/AIDS patients are a lot more advanced than in China," the report said.

It pointed that not only do the United States and European and Southeast Asian countries have policies in place to protect the rights of HIV/AIDS patients, the policies and regulations were more efficient.

Meanwhile, China remains more concerned with the disease itself and discriminates against those that get infected, the report said. 

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