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Officials back plan to require real names before HIV tests

By Cai Wenjun (Shanghai Daily)

08:34, February 09, 2012

STATE health officials are backing a proposal by south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region requiring people to give their real names when they take an HIV test.

The draft also requires them to tell their spouses and sexual partners if they test positive for the HIV virus.

Wang Yu, director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said yesterday that using real names could help medical facilities locate HIV carriers, enabling them to give proper treatment and control the disease from spreading.

At present, China allows people to take HIV tests without having to give personal details.

Guangxi officials said the region allowed anonymous HIV tests to protect people's privacy, but it found that the health authority couldn't then contact people who had been tested. Some people just vanished after they had tested positive.

The draft, as well as requiring patients to show their identity cards, requires HIV carriers to inform their sexual partners within 30 days of the test result. If they fail to do so, the disease control center has the right to inform the spouse and sexual partners of the situation, the draft states.

Wang said anonymous HIV testing had limitations, especially in places with a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS.

"We sometimes can't find the carriers who didn't leave real information. HIV carriers could pose a risk to others through unsafe sexual behavior or other methods if their infection is hidden. Under such circumstances, what is more important - protecting privacy or controlling an infectious situation and protecting public health?"

Shanghai health officials said requiring real names could scare off people because of social prejudice against the disease.

Song Guofan, of Shanghai Health Bureau, said: "AIDS is such a stigma in China. Allowing voluntary tests without using real names can effectively promote the free HIV tests and make people feel comfortable and safe."

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