|Drug Use and HIV Vulnerability (UNAIDS, 2001, 238 p.)|
|Chapter 2: People's Republic of China|
When the People's Republic of China was established in 1949 there were some 20 million opium users in China. At the beginning of 1950, the Government Administration Council issued the order prohibiting the taking of opium. This led to a nation-wide drug prohibition campaign. Opium and other dangerous drugs were confiscated, the growing of opium was prohibited, opium dens were closed, drug users were rehabilitated and people growing opium or trafficking in drugs were severely punished. Over 369,700 people who were involved in drug production or trafficking were rounded up and punished and thousands of drug users were treated of their addiction. China was able to maintain a drug free status for the next 30 years (Zhang Chongde and Chen Yuan, 1998).
Drugs began to re-emerge as a problem in the early 1980s but China adopted a vigorous and resolute policy to fight drug use a policy which, is profoundly determined by China's previous experience of large-scale opium addiction.
The HIV/AIDS epidemic in China that emerged in the 1990s is closely linked to injecting drug use. As in other countries in the East Asia region (notably Thailand and Myanmar) the epidemic seems to have been 'jump-started' by drug users and although the epidemic is spreading to other groups they still represent the largest numbers of infected individuals in China. It is critical therefore to examine strategies in China that straddle these two overlapping issues.