China enforces HIV tests for returning nationals

BEIJING Thu Dec 6, 2007 10:09am EST

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BEIJING (Reuters) - China, which is to scrap laws that restrict people with HIV/AIDS traveling to the country, is to make Chinese citizens who leave for a more than a year have HIV tests on their return, a newspaper said on Thursday.

The apparently contradictory regulations, introduced by quarantine authorities, started this month and also apply to Chinese air and ship crew members working abroad, the Beijing News said.

The newspaper did not elaborate on how the tests would work, for instance, for air crew coming in and out of the country every few days.

A Health Ministry official said last month China would scrap immigration laws that restrict people with HIV/AIDS traveling to the country.

The restrictions have been a hindrance blocking people who are HIV-positive from entering China to attend conferences on AIDS and are seen as reinforcing stigmas against those living with the disease.

China will have an estimated 50,000 new HIV infections in 2007, compared with 70,000 in 2005, according to a report by the State Council, or Cabinet, and the United Nations.

That will mean there will be about 700,000 people living with HIV/AIDS this year in China, up from an earlier estimate of 650,000.

(Reporting by Beijing newsroom, editing by Nick Macfie)

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