Statistics from an official evaluation report has shown an estimated 780,000 people in China had been living with HIV/AIDS by the end of 2011. However, only about 300,000 are aware they are infected and have reported to relevant authorities. Accordingly, identifying HIV/AIDS carriers and patients has become an important priority for health officials.
Recently, southwest China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, home to the second highest number of infected in the country, drafted a new regulation on HIV/AIDS prevention, which demands real-name registration during testing.
This ruling, however, has aroused huge controversy among the public. Supporters say real-name registration will help prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, while opponents argue that alongside prevalent discrimination, it will expose private health conditions, which in turn might inhibit potential patients from undergoing relevant tests. The following are excerpts of public opinion on the matter:
Luo Shujie (gb.cri.cn): A big problem facing AIDS prevention relates to the disappearance of patients once they have been tested positive, making further treatment next to impossible.
The real-name testing policy, however, could help relevant departments track down patients and take further preventive measures. When patients and their families, particularly their sexual partners, remain unaware of their health conditions, the situation becomes both dangerous and unfair. The protection of one's own privacy may thus put others' health or even life itself at risk. This is the worry underlying the real-name testing policy.
Guo Songmin (Legal Daily): For years, the protection of AIDS patient privacy has been overstressed in China. While such measures are well-intended, the objective result is that those close to patients, particularly their spouses or partners, face hidden danger. Strangely enough, however, HIV/AIDS patients are currently in a morally advantageous position, with some even threatening society in the name of victimization.
Excessive protection of AIDS patient privacy might lead to an even quicker and covert spread of the disease. In today's China, HIV/AIDS patients are diagnosed via an anonymous process. Thus, most undergo tests using false names and worse still, disappear soon after testing positive for HIV. This makes gathering accurate statistics on HIV/AIDS nearly impossible.
Since the first case of HIV/AIDS was discovered in China in 1985, the disease has spread across the country. With the AIDS-related death rate continuously on the rise, methods of transmission have also expanded, even though uninformed sex with HIV positive partners remains the prime suspect. The latter is directly linked to excessive protection of AIDS patient privacy.
There is still no effective medicine to fight HIV/AIDS, or any vaccine to prevent infection. The removal of public discrimination against HIV positive patients depends on wider awareness of this disease, and not on the covering of privacy. Guangxi has set a good example in HIV testing real-name registration. The rest of the country is expected to follow suit. Overly protecting the privacy of those who live with HIV/AIDS will do more harm than good to society.
Liu Wenwen (cnhubei.com): Today, there are still serious cases of discrimination against AIDS patients, and thus real-name registration during HIV testing may discourage potential HIV carriers from approaching testing institutions.
It's OK to push forward real-name registration, alongside developing a much needed system to protect private information, so that patients feel comfortable and willing to cooperate in medical treatment. In a caring and open society, HIV/AIDS patients will naturally support real-name registration during testing.