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close this bookDrug Use and HIV Vulnerability (UNAIDS, 2001, 238 p.)
close this folderChapter 2: People's Republic of China
close this folderV. Discussion
View the documentA. Constraining factors
View the documentB. Estimating the size of the drug problem: data gathering

B. Estimating the size of the drug problem: data gathering

It is unclear how drug use/addiction is defined in China. Much of the information about use comes from the families of the users and the local community and passed on to the Ministry of Public Security. There is little doubt that because the penalties for use are severe that user try to hide their use for as long as possible. There are varying estimates about the true extent of drug use and these may be considerably higher than the numbers of registered users.

Information about drug use is collected in a number of different ways. The two major methods are as follows:

(a) Local police operating on a commune level provides information to the Ministry of Public Security. Police officers visit every household but it is not clear how often as the staffing level of public security on the commune level is rather small. Theoretically the figures are continuously updated. Those currently in treatment or in rehabilitation are also included in the figures (may be double counted because information is also gathered from the treatment centres). Once a drug user is identified the information is passed on from the commune to the prefecture and provincial authorities. In practice it is not clear how/whether this information is updated or whether anyone ever gets off the record. There is no specific information about the mode of drug administration so it is not clear how many of the known/registered drug users are drug injectors.

(b) The health sector has its own recording system. The ministry has a computerised database in 16 provinces. All admissions to the voluntary drug-treatment centres run by the Ministry of Health (now the SDA) are recorded. These figures reflect the number of admissions and not the number of patients. However the patients are also counted and registered under the Public Security system.