Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
The present situation of the HIV/AIDS epidemic is very grim in China. The probability of China becoming a country with a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS cannot be excluded because there have been factors which promote the wide spread of HIV if we fail to take timely action to prevent it at the opportune moment. However, China's HIV prevention policy is inadequate. Health professionals and programmers believed that they could take a conventional public health approach to cope with the HIV epidemic. They simply ignored the fact that HIV infection is an epidemic so special that their approach is not effective to deter the epidemic. Many health professionals and programmers bypassed ethical issues that had emerged in the prevention of the HIV epidemic. Even some health educators, sexologists and officials believe that `AIDS is the punishment for promiscuity', and this belief has led to discrimination and stigmatization of AIDS patients, HIV positive people, their family members and high risk groups. Although homosexuality is not illegal, the police can always find any reason to detain homosexuals. A difficult ethical issue is about the laws prohibiting prostitution and drug use in China which force prostitutes and intravenous drug users underground, giving them no chance to access information, education and the services needed to protect them. The dilemma facing China is whether to stay with a restrictive policy for the reason of ideology cleansing or to turn to a more supportive policy. It is necessary to have some change in the ethical framework to evaluate the action in HIV prevention. Tolerance should be the first ethical principle.
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