[JURIST] China [JURIST news archive] Sunday issued it first guidelines on HIV/AIDS [JURIST news archive], banning discrimination against those infected by the virus and providing for free treatment. The new guidelines were promulgated in response to the already-large number of people with HIV/AIDS in the country [Avert.org backgrounder] - currently estimated by the government at 650,000 - and warnings by international experts that the numbers of infected individuals could rise due to the lack of government support and lack of information about the disease.
The Regulation of AIDS Prevention and Control [Xinhua report] was approved by the State Council, China's cabinet, and signed by Premier Wen Jiabao [BBC profile] and is due to take effect March 1. While the UNAIDS China office [official website] sees the guidelines as good progress, other international experts warn the rules do not go far enough and fear that social stigma could still prevent many from seeking treatment. Reuters has more.