China's HIV/AIDS-Plagued Region Launches Blanket Surveillance
April 6, 2011
China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region sits on a trade route commonly used to transport drugs from the poppy-growing regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Needle-sharing among Xinjiang's drug users has long been blamed for the region's high incidence of HIV/AIDS. With 33,149 HIV infections reported through the end of last year, Xinjiang accounts for one-tenth of the nation's total cases.
In response, the Xinjiang health bureau has launched a major new surveillance effort in health care settings. In cities, counties or districts where more than 300 HIV/AIDS cases have been reported, hospitals must administer mandatory HIV tests to all inpatients and to at least 50 percent of outpatients. In areas with more than 500 reported HIV/AIDS cases, hospitals and clinics must conduct mandatory HIV tests of all inpatients and 80 percent of outpatients. The policy was announced March 31.
Yin Yulin, Xinjiang's top health official, said some parts of the region now have a "high prevalence" of HIV, and it has become "very difficult" to monitor the movements of those with the virus.
"The epidemic has shown a new trend," Yin said. "While the spread of the virus among intravenous drug users remains hard to rein in, sex has replaced drug-taking as the main channel of Xinjiang's AIDS prevalence."
The new blanket surveillance is seen as a way to account for every individual living with HIV/AIDS in the region, health authorities said.
Xinhua News Agency
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