The United Nations Development Programme, the National Population and Family Planning Commission and the China International Center for Economic and Technical Exchanges have launched a program to reduce the risk of HIV along China's northern border.
The 'Safe Mobility and HIV Prevention in Northern China' project aims to strengthened local community's capacity to respond to AIDS through local leader education; life skills training for potential and returning cross border migrants; community-based AIDS prevention and education activities among, entertainment workers and students; and sustained media campaigns to reinforce key AIDS education and anti-stigma messages among the general public.
"Mobility and HIV are closely inter-related and this relationship has a negative impact on human development," stated Renaud Meyer, UNDP deputy country director in China. "It is noted that HIV prevalence along China's northern border areas is 'low', however, an explosion in cross-border trade, tourism and work opportunities presents an ever-increasing risk to future HIV rates."
Cross-border migration and population mobility continue to accelerate due to increased economic cooperation and burgeoning opportunities. However, there are few dedicated 'migrant friendly' support services, especially along the remote border areas which serve as initial entry points into larger cities both in China and neighboring countries.
"This project is very timely in the national context of providing services, managing and resolving issues relating to population, especially in the context of HIV and the floating population," said Mme Ru Xiaomei, Deputy Director General of the National Population and Family Planning Commission. "We hope to gain better ideas and measures through this project to help family planning system to provide better public services."
Leaving social safety nets and security behind, lacking skills, information or language necessary for protection, and with limited ability to access health and information services, migrant and mobile populations represent a serious challenge to the future success in combating the spread of HIV.
As a key component of the UN Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (2007-2010) in China's efforts to strengthen the local government and community's capacity to respond to the epidemic, this three-year programme will be implemented in four major border crossings and their surrounding communities, including Heihe (Heilongjiang Province), Yanji (Jilin Province), Erenhot (Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region) and Huo'erguosi (Xinjiang Autonomous Region).
"The vulnerability of China's mobile population to HIV infection is emphasized by legal and social constraints they encounter as they travel and work outside their home towns and across national borders," said Edmund Settle, UNDP HIV/AIDS Programme Specialist in China.