On Wednesday, February 8, 2012 the Chinese Ministry of Health announced that it intends to introduce so-called “real-name” HIV testing. The measure aims to help health officials to follow up with those who test positive. Instead, the new policy would discourage many people from getting tested at all.
International human rights standards, including the International Guidelines on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights state that information about an individual’s HIV status must be protected from disclosure in healthcare and other settings. The World Health Organization requires that HIV testing include (1) informed consent; (2) pre- and post-test counseling; and (3) confidentiality of test results.
However, health care facilities have done poorly at protecting patient confidentiality in China, and many people who test positive for HIV go underground in order to escape discrimination against themselves and their families by employers, landlords, schools, and even hospitals. The legal system has failed to deliver justice for the few courageous people who have dared to sue over their HIV-related discrimination.
We, the undersigned, support the China Alliance for People Living with HIV/AIDS (CAP+), the China Gay Health Forum and many other Chinese AIDS activists in calling on the Ministry of Health to reject real-name testing and strengthen privacy protections at hospitals and testing sites. China’s leaders should pass—and enforce--stronger laws to ban discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS.