Ministry of Health to Distribute HIV/AIDS Prevention Guides in Minority Languages

December 5, 2005

The Ministry of Health (MOH) will give out 90,000 free HIV/AIDS prevention guides to members of China's ethnic minority communities, according to an MOH announcement on November 30 reported in Xinhua. The MOH subsidized publication of a Chinese-language guide translated into Uighur, Tibetan, Kazak, Korean, and Mongolian. It will give out the guides to village-level health care facilities in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR), Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Tibet Autonomous Region, and the provinces of Yunnan, Sichuan, Gansu, Qinghai, Liaoning, Jilin, and Heilongjiang. This news coincided with the Chinese government’s announcement on the same day that it has budgeted $100 million for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, according to a China Daily report.

Some of the highest rates of HIV infection in China occur in regions with large ethnic minority populations. Yunnan province, the XUAR, and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region are among the five provincial-level areas that reported more than 10,000 people infected with HIV by the end of September 2005, according to the transcript of a November 29 teleconference made available by Xinhua and posted on the National Population and Family Planning Commission Web site.

Despite new efforts to improve HIV/AIDS prevention, the government continues to place restrictions on HIV/AIDS activists and non-governmental organizations. Increased governmental controls on civil society in minority areas exacerbate the challenge of curbing AIDS there. In the XUAR, for example, government restrictions over religious and social organizations hinder grassroot efforts to deal with social problems that contribute to HIV transmission. The government bans meshrep, Islamic-based social groups that have sought to reduce behaviors such as drug abuse. Needle sharing among drug users was the source of 93 percent of the XUAR's HIV/AIDS infections, according to a 2004 Radio Free Asia report based on official statistics.

For further information on the Chinese government’s controls over HIV/AIDS activists, see the 2005 Human Rights Watch report Restrictions on AIDS Activists in China. More information on meshrep is available in Amnesty International's 1999 report Gross Violations of Human Rights in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. For a further discussion of HIV/AIDS in China and the government's control over religious organizations in the XUAR, see Section III(h), on "Public Health," and Section III(d), on "Freedom of Religion," in the CECC's 2005 Annual Report.