The province of Yunnan, located in southwestern China, is planning to offer free HIV and AIDS treatment for some of its foreign residents, the People's Daily reported.
According to the official newspaper, the provincial government is studying a revision of the regulations on control and prevention of HIV, so that foreigners who have contracted the virus or who have developed AIDS can get free treatment.
The measure would benefit those foreigners who have lived "a certain time" in Yunnan and plan to extend their stay, as well as those who have formed a family with Chinese citizens, according to the head of epidemiology of the Chinese Center for the Control and Prevention of Disease, Wu Zunyou.
"The proposal continues under review by the authorities, once it comes into effect, it will benefit both foreigners and Chinese," he said.
A spokesman for the health department confessed to the People's Daily concern about a possible "call effect", since Yunnan makes physical border with Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar, countries that have increased transit with China in recent years.
In this regard, the Chinese authorities have increased voluntary HIV tests at the border. Of the more than 128,000 tests conducted between January and October of this year, 1,034 foreigners tested positive, according to the provincial health department.
According to the National Center for the Control and Prevention of AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs), last year there were 2,514 foreigners living with HIV in China, "most of them drug addicts" from Yunnan and neighboring Guangxi, said the People's Daily
Regarding the number of nationals suffering from the disease, the National Health Commission maintains that 9 out of 10,000 people have HIV in China, that is, around 1,240,000.
The organism maintains that all of them have free access to the treatment of antiretrovirals, necessary to mitigate the effects of HIV.