A new regional regulation requiring people who test positive for HIV to inform sex partners of their condition within a month is widely considered well-intentioned but unrealistic.
For the first time in China, health authorities began to clearly regulate HIV status disclosure on the part of sufferers, who number 700,000 by official estimates.
The regulation, now still a draft, issued by the Gansu health department on Monday, stipulates that upon getting the HIV confirmation from the clinics, the sufferer must tell his or her partners within a month about the infection, or face a lawsuit.
"The requirement featuring a one-month time limit is not human-oriented as sufferers who first learn of their HIV status need time to accept the harsh reality, let alone informing others of their condition," said He Tiantian, who heads the Women's Network against AIDS - China, a civil society supporting females living with HIV/AIDS.
She is also HIV positive.
However, she said the regulation was good in that it stipulated sufferers must disclose their newly confirmed HIV positive status to sex partners on their own.
In China's voluntary HIV/AIDS consulting and testing clinics across the country, a person can get free HIV screening by providing their own identification and personal information.
"Some give fake documents to protect their privacy," said Professor Jing Jun with Tsinghua University.
Among the 700,000 HIV/AIDS sufferers in China, only 270,000 can be tracked, he said.
Regional surveys in the country showed that only one-third of the newly diagnosed HIV sufferers would disclose their infection to their partners.
"The Gansu regulation is good in intention while unrealistic in practice," he noted.
Those most likely to tell their partners are those who have been married for a long time.
Other sufferers, especially prostitutes, often fail to inform their partners about the infection, he said.