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China: Canceling HIV Tests for Teachers Sparks Debate

May 31, 2013

Guangdong has become the first Chinese province to exempt teaching applicants from HIV testing, a move proposed by the nongovernmental organization Equity and Justice Initiative (EJI) in January. Guo Bin, EJI director, stated that the action sent a signal to the public that the rights of "social minorities" must be respected. Chen Yuan, director of Nanjing Tianxiagong (Justice for All), agreed that the action was a sign that rampant discrimination and stigma against HIV-infected persons might be waning in China.

Opponents of Guangdong's decision included parents who were concerned about student safety, in light of recent sexual assaults by teachers in Hunan and Hainan provinces. The Twitter-like social networking site Sina Weibo conducted an online survey in which 3,266 respondents favored the elimination of HIV testing for teachers and 2,971 opposed it, as of May 29.

China's 2006 Regulations on HIV/AIDS Prevention and Treatment supported the legal rights of HIV-infected people regarding marriage, employment, education, and medical treatment. However, a survey of 729 HIV-infected people conducted by Beijing Yiranping Center revealed that 61 percent of urban HIV patients could not find jobs and 20 percent were dependent on their families for financial support.

China has recorded only four HIV-related employment discrimination court cases since 2010, and only one individual has received compensation. The Jinxian County Education Bureau paid an applicant $7,275 in damages after a court ruling in January, but the individual still has not been able to find a teaching position.

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Excerpted from:
China Daily (Beijing)

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