Crackdown on Drugs Hurts China AIDS Fight: Report
December 11, 2008
On Tuesday, Human Rights Watch (HRW) warned that China's "pragmatic" and "bold" approach to combating HIV/AIDS is at odds with its punitive treatment of drug users.
Approximately 1.08 million Chinese were registered drug addicts as of October, up from 785,000 in 2005, the state-owned Xinhua News Agency said Friday, citing the Ministry of Public Security. China plans to build 45 non-compulsory drug treatment centers with a more "friendly environment," the ministry said. In the past, China has had only compulsory centers.
The report said drug users are routinely detained by police, who sometimes wait outside the country's 500 methadone clinics. "Detox" centers and re-education through labor programs are "prison-like," with abusive guards, nominal medical treatment, and work without pay, said HRW.
Furthermore, HIV testing is rarely confidential, making people reluctant to get tested until they are already sick, the report said. Drug users who undergo mandatory testing in detention are not informed of the results, it added.
12.09.2008; Lucy Hornby