China offers free HIV tests

hiv testingBeijing, Oct 2 : Health centres in a Chinese province are now offering tests for HIV/AIDS free of charge in a bid to control the spread of the disease.

People in the northwestern Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region are also being offered free counselling, Xinhua reported.

Xinjiang reportedly has the fastest spread of the disease in the country, and authorities are now encouraging intravenous drug users, sex workers and those who have suffered other sexually transmitted infections to seek counselling.

"The voluntary counselling and testing programme has been developed over a number of years, and now it is time to put it into practice," said chairman of Xinjiang's People's Congress Standing Committee Arkin Imirbaki.

An AIDS Prevention Ordinance proposed by Xinjiang also says that free medicine would be provided to low-income families and pregnant women affected by HIV/AIDS.

Wang Lei, a legal expert at the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences, said through legislation, the government would play a more important part in AIDS prevention and control.

"It also strengthens the responsibility of medical institutions and hospitals to carry out the ordinance and the awareness of residents of their legal rights," he said.

Xinjiang has over 60,000 HIV/AIDS patients.(IANS)