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Sichuan set to lift AIDS marriage ban
( 2003-06-02 11:59) (8)

People with HIV/AIDS should find it easier to marry under legislative changes being considered by Southwest China's Sichuan Province.

"We need to revamp the regulation to bring it into line with national regulations and practices," said an official with Sichuan People's Congress, who declined to be identified.

The Ministry of Health issued specific regulations on the management of AIDS patients and HIV/AIDS carriers in 1998.

Under these regulations, AIDS patients and HIV/AIDS carriers may marry but they have to meet strict conditions to do so.

A person suspected of HIV/AIDS must undergo a medical check to determine whether they are infected.

Then they need to attend a medical consultation at which they are told all about the disease and given psychological counselling.

Under the health ministry administration, AIDS patients are advised to postpone marriage temporarily.

But local Sichuan laws, which took effect in 1995, do not allow AIDS patients and HIV/AIDS carriers to register marriages with the civil affairs department.

The anonymous Sichuan congress official said the conflict between local and health ministry regulations often puts registrars in awkward situations.

Wang Yue, vice-director of the Health Law Department at the Peking University Health Science Centre, said: "It is an international trend to protect the human rights of people with AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases."

"People can live for a long time with AIDS and it is inhumane to bar them from getting married," Wang said.

"Simply depriving them of their rights to wedlock will not ensure that HIV/AIDS carriers do not have sex."

He added that people can now take precautions such as using condoms to prevent the spread of the virus to their spouses.

Sources with Sichuan People's Congress said the planned revision of the province's laws also aims to encourage the public to do more to control and prevent venereal diseases and AIDS.

The changes have already been considered once by local legislators and will undergo a second round of deliberations in July or September before they go to the vote, said congress sources.

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