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Real-name HIV testing raises privacy concerns

By Shan Juan (China Daily)

09:17, February 24, 2012

CHENGDU - A senior health official of the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region denied on Thursday a real-name HIV testing policy - which is expected to begin soon in the region - will be compulsory.

Tang Zhenzhu, director of the Guangxi disease control and prevention center, told China Daily that people taking an HIV test who refuse the real-name registry would still get a free screening, though they were strongly recommended to give their names.

Earlier this month, the online community raged as Guangxi drafted a legislation requiring personal information including ID number, name and address for HIV screening.

Currently, takers first undergo a preliminary screening and those who test positive take a confirmation test, which usually takes a week to show final results.

"The new policy, which highly encourages real-name testing, actually only demands personal information for confirmation testing," he said.

At government HIV voluntary counseling and testing clinics, people can choose whether to remain anonymous or not, he said.

According to Tang, the real-name registry aims to better track the infected and offer timely counseling and treatment if needed, and their privacy is protected as the information is only known by health workers for contact reasons.

Under the anonymous testing policy, many never show up after a positive test result, which makes follow-up service and intervention efforts almost impossible, he said.

Xiao Dong, who heads a civil organization committed to HIV/AIDS control in Beijing, said a real-name registry was reasonable for confirmation testing as that is associated with medications supplied by the government.

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