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Last Updated: Monday, 14 November 2005, 11:34 GMT
China plans jails for HIV inmates
Two people with Aids from China's central Henan province
China's response to the disease has long been controversial
A Chinese province has announced plans to build special jails to hold inmates with HIV or Aids, in a bid to halt the spread of the virus.

The official China Daily newspaper says two separate prisons are to be built somewhere in Guangdong province.

China says it has almost a million people with the virus, but experts say the real figure is likely much higher.

The country has been criticised for its failure to tackle the spread of HIV and discrimination against carriers.

The United Nations' Aids agency says that up to 10 million Chinese people could be infected by 2010 without more aggressive prevention measures.

Stigma

Officials say 20 Aids patients and 518 HIV carriers are serving sentences in prisons in Guangdong.

The China Daily says the local politician behind the scheme believes those numbers are likely to increase quickly in a prison environment.

This would pose "further problems" for prison management, the official was quoted as saying.


It has not yet been decided where the prisons will be built, the paper said.

For years, the government's official response to HIV was to cover up any Aids outbreaks and ignore anyone with the virus, says the BBC's Louisa Lim in Beijing.

Recently, high-profile campaigns against Aids have been launched, however HIV-positive people are still the subject of discrimination.

The country's campaign to give free anti-retroviral drugs to 30,000 people has also recently suffered a blow.

A report in the Washington Post newspaper claimed this aim is being undermined by hospitals seeking to turn a profit.

It said doctors are padding out their bills by forcing patients to buy unneeded drugs and take unnecessary tests.


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