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China Daily Website

Better understanding of real-name HIV test urged

Updated: 2012-03-08 20:54
By Li Xin and Yan Weijue (

A leading expert on HIV/AIDS said people need to improve their understanding of the disease and strongly defended the controversial proposal for real-name tests.

Shao Yiming, chief AIDS expert at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told China Daily, "The discrimination against HIV carriers and AIDS patients still exists, mainly due to the lack of a scientific view of the virus."

Better understanding of real-name HIV test urged

Shao Yiming (R) answers a question from a China Daily website reporter in Beijing on March 8, 2012. [Yan Weijue/]

He said that in the past five years, there were three major shifts in the route of HIV transmission: from birth to sex, from high-risk groups to the general public and from predominantly rural areas to rural and urban areas alike, making higher requirements for the HIV/AIDS control and prevention efforts advisable.

South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region drafted a regulation in February that would require people being tested for HIV to submit accurate personal information. The draft proposal would also mandate that those who test positive inform their spouses and sexual partners. The proposal set off intense debate on the pros and cons of the issue.

Shao said some may have misinterpreted how the real-name HIV system would work.

"There are two phases in HIV testing, namely the primary test and the confirmation of the diagnosis," he said. "Some 60 to 70 million people in China take the primary tests every year when undergoing surgery or going abroad. These tests are anonymous. Only people with positive results have to take the second phase to confirm the diagnosis and give their real names."

"The purpose is first to confirm their identity so as to provide a valid report that benefits the infected for a lifelong treatment. And second, it is to monitor the side effect of drugs."

Shao, one of the founders of China AIDS Vaccine Initiative, said their research has made some progress and they are preparing the second phase of a clinical trial for their HIV vaccine named Tiantan.

Usually, vaccines undergo three phases of human trials before being licensed for use, he said. The first two phases mainly test its safety and the third its efficiency.

"A sound environment where anti-AIDS efforts are well-implemented needs the collaboration of the government and the public, especially people who are infected," he said. "I thoroughly understand they are worried about possible leaks of personal information. But I hope they understand that maintaining the safety of society is everyone's obligation."