Yunnan opens methadone clinics in border areas

Updated: 2008-01-05 19:08

KUNMING - Southwest China's Yunnan Province set up seven more methadone mobile clinics in 2007 in the rural areas bordering the Golden Triangle in an effort to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.

The province had intended to open 22 new clinics early last year but only 14 were set up by the end of 2007, bringing the total number of methadone clinics to 67 including eight mobile ones, said Zhang Ruimin, deputy director of the Yunnan Provincial Institute for Drug Abuse.

The seven new mobile clinics provide treatment for people in Dai-Jingpo Autonomous Prefecture of Dehong, Hani-Yi Autonomous Prefecture of Honghe, Lincang City and Baoshan City, which cover most of the rural border areas.

Bordering the Golden Triangle drug-producing area which covers parts of Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, Yunnan has suffered from crippling heroin addiction in recent years.

According to statistics from the provincial AIDS prevention and control bureau, Yunnan had recorded 56,054 HIV infections by September last year, which made up a quarter of the country's official total - 220,000 HIV carriers. Most of them were drug users, according to the bureau.

"Methadone treatment is an effective way to prevent HIV from spreading among drug users," said Zhang. "However, those drug addicts in rural areas usually have a slim chance of receiving methadone treatment."

China had more than 500 methadone treatment clinics in 23 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities at the end of last year since the program was initiated in 2003. A total of 95,000 drug users had received treatment.

Yunnan opened its first methadone treatment clinic in Gejiu City in April 2004.

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