China to penalise people found spreading STDs

China to penalise people found spreading STDsBeijing, May 21 : Authorities in China may soon be able to penalise anyone found intentionally spreading sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), according to the latest draft amendment by the health ministry to the regulation on STD prevention and treatment.

Those found intentionally spreading STDs will be held liable as per the damage they caused, according to the new amendments, China Daily quoted the Ministry of Health as saying in a statement.

The amended law requires STD sufferers to take precautions to prevent transmitting a disease to others, while the current regulation, which has been in force since 1991, only required them to seek timely treatment.

The draft appeared Tuesday on the website of the State Council's Legislative Affairs Office, which is soliciting public opinions until June 5.

The draft also demands non-discrimination and proper services from healthcare providers for STD patients and requires them to keep a record of STD occurrences.

Statistics from the Ministry of Health showed that in April, 932 people in China died of AIDS, and that there were 7,806 cases of gonorrhea reported and 35,153 of syphilis, a slight decline for each disease on the March figures.

Wang Ning, deputy director of the National Centre for AIDS and STD Control and Prevention, said the purpose of the penalties is to guarantee victims rights to sue malicious STD transmitters.

However, the draft amendment has also led to skepticism among people.

According to Qiu Renzong, a bio-ethics researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, it was unnecessary to single out intentional STD transmission, because many other infectious diseases can also be maliciously spread.

"Such cases happen rather rarely. The charge of intentional injury under the current criminal law is enough to handle them," he said.

Qiu said he believes that instead of penalties it would be better to educate STD sufferers and offer more effective treatment.

A volunteer at the Beijing home of Red Ribbon that provides medical advice and help for people living with HIV/AIDS, said it is very difficult to collect evidence to prove intentional transmission.

High-risk groups such as sex workers are more likely to be intentional transmitters, because they may lose business if they disclose that they are STD carriers, he added.(IANS)