URUMQI - People in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region are being offered free HIV/AIDS tests and counseling from Friday, the regional government has announced.
The authorities in Xinjiang, which has the fastest spread of the disease in China, are particularly encouraging intravenous drug users, sex workers and those who have suffered other sexually transmitted infections to seek testing and counselling.
"The HIV/AIDS voluntary counseling and testing program has been developed over a number of years, and now it is time to put it into practice," said chairman of Xinjiang's People's Congress Standing Committee Arkin Imirbaki.
Xinjiang's AIDS Prevention Ordinance requires that free medicine be provided to low-income families affected by HIV/AIDS and pregnant HIV/AIDS carriers.
Wang Lei, a legal expert at Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences, said that through legislation, the government would play a more important part in AIDS prevention and control.
"It also strengthens the responsibility of medical institutions and hospitals to carry out the ordinance and the awareness of residents of their legal rights," he said
With more than 60,000 HIV/AIDS suffers, Xinjiang ranks fourth of all Chinese regions in number of suffers.