China tries to halt march of Aids

China's south-western province of Yunnan will set up Aids quarantine checkpoints along its borders with South-East Asia in an attempt to stop the increase of HIV infection in the worst afflicted part of the country.

However, the idea of a disease-prevention belt along its borders with Vietnam, Laos and Burma appears to be a throw-back to Peking's much-criticised view that Aids is a foreign evil rather than a problem which China must address as a domestic issue.

There are about 2,500 official cases of HIV infection in China, but many experts believe the real number is nearer 100,000. Yunnan province, which has a serious heroin-addiction and drug-trafficking problem because of its proximity to the Golden Triangle opium-growing countries, accounts for more than three-quarters of the official number.

Yesterday, it was announced that the Yunnan provincial government would spend about 500m yuan (pounds 40m) to set up infectious-disease checkpoints and protection belts at six crossing points along the 2,500-mile border.

The province would also improve grassroots prevention programmes to control diseases including Aids, cholera and leprosy, said Yang Chaobin, of the provincial health department.

There were no details as to how the checkpoints would work, and the booming border trade across these very porous borders will present a considerable challenge to the plan. Nor is it clear what the checkpoints will actually check. Yunnan's border towns do not have the resources for large-scale testing, and any requirement that travellers carry Aids-test certificates would seem both impractical and vulnerable to forgeries. Given the ease with which people manage to smuggle drugs into Yunnan, the idea of policing the whole border is unrealistic.

China has traditionally viewed Aids as a "foreign problem". Even now, any foreigner who wants to live in China must first present a very recent Aids test certificate. Chinese returning from living abroad must similarly be tested.

It is only over the past year that Chinese authorities have started to be more open about the need for Aids education and public-health measures, and to treat Aids as a potential Chinese problem. The country's first national Aids education and publicity campaign was launched only last November, on World Aids Day. Along with the economic boom of the past decade, China has also experienced a surge in the number of drug addicts, fuelling what in other Asian countries has been the first wave of HIV infection.

While most Chinese people tend to be extremely reticent when talking about sex, the past 10 years has also seen a boom in prostitution, especially in the cities and fast-growing coastal areas. This has been true at all levels of society.

China's strict family-planning rules mean that many women rely on IUDs for contraception, and condoms are not popular with Chinese men, further increasing the possibility of HIV infection.

China's vast floating population of 90 million also adds to the problem in organising Aids education.

Every year millions of farmers leave behind their wives and children and head for the construction sites of China's cities, out of the clutches of the authorities, and often into the arms of prostitutes.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before