By Horace Lu
NGOs and activist groups have voiced their objections to a new proposal that would allow for real-name HIV tests and compulsory disclosure. The organizations worry that once implemented, such new regulations could discourage high-risk individuals from receiving tests, thus facilitating the spread of HIV.
“Justice for All” (天下公, or “Tianxiagong”), a Nanjing-based charity group, has written to the Ministry of Health, calling for an immediate stop in promoting the real-name HIV testing policy.
“In the current situation, it is still difficult to draw high-risk groups into HIV tests even with cash incentives and anonymity. How could a real-name system possibly improve these rates?” asks Yu Fangqiang (于方强), Chief Executive of “Justice for All.”
Yu adds that if fewer high-risk individuals get HIV tests, compulsory disclosure (requiring HIV carriers to inform their partners about their disease) will be of little use, since the majority of those who go for checks will likely be in low-risk populations.
The China Alliance of People Living with HIV/AIDS (CAP+) has also finished drafting a letter that will be sent to the National Center of Disease Control.
A recent survey conducted by PFLAG China reveals that as many as 59% of respondents were unwilling to take real-name HIV tests. Meanwhile, statistics show that only about 20% of MSM respondents (men-having-sex-with-men), the group most exposed to HIV threats, take HIV tests regularly.
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Wan Yanhai (万延海), public health expert and founder of AIDS prevention NGO Aizhixing (爱知行), says real-name disclosure has long been the foundation of China’s AIDS policy, despite the state’s promise to protect carriers’ privacy.
China requires all confirmed HIV carriers to submit their names and other detailed information to the state.
Wan insists that China’s AIDS policy is more about state control over individuals than an effort to grasp and analyze the spread and prevention of HIV. Government control over individuals “forces the infected and the at-risk to go underground, making the government unable to know about HIV spread and its status.”
Ye Chengjiang (叶澄江), Director of the Guangzhou LGBT Center, says the government should do more to promote pre-check consultations and offer services to HIV carriers.
“American NGOs like LA LGBT Center can provide HIV checks and consultant services to as many as 10,000 people in local communities per year. Everything is anonymous, but the relevance ratio is still very high,” says Ye.
Ye tells Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV that relevance ratio is connected with people’s trust in prevention institutes. “It’s human nature that people want to seek help from trustable medical institutes or social organizations as soon as possible when there is something wrong with their body.”