In China, when the first AIDS case was confirmed, the Chinese government set out policies to stop the entry of infected persons into the country in an attempt to stem the spread of HIV. However, as this response was not realistic, it impeded prevention rather having positive effects. It was not until the spread of SARS in 2003 that people became aware of the threat of epidemics to public health and the Chinese government started to implement a positive response to the HIV/AIDS issue. Wen Jiabao, then prime minister of China, pronounced the policy ‘Four Frees, One Care’ in December, 2003. The four free items include a free blood test for those with HIV, free education for the orphans of AIDS patients, free consultation and screening tests and antiretroviral therapy for pregnant women. ‘One care’ means social and economic support for the families who care for persons with HIV (see also Hood in this volume). In 2004 the State Council’s AIDS Working Committee was established to draw up a national program for HIV/AIDS prevention and care. Following this, the budget for AIDS response showed a sharp increase after 2004. In 2010 the State Council abolished the law prohibiting the entry of PwA/ PwH to the country.
In Taiwan the AIDS Prevention and Control Law was passed in 1990. This is the basic law for AIDS policy and response. This law includes measures for enhancing the human rights of and protection of confidentiality for HIV/AIDS cases; encouraging people to accept testing by means other than blood donation; asking doctors to report HIV/AIDS cases to health authorities; conducting health education with sex workers and clients; making condoms available in hotels and bathhouses; penalising people who intentionally infect others; and providing free highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) for PLWHA. These regulations have proven effective in HIV/ AIDS prevention as more people are willing to test for HIV if their confidentiality is protected. The government of Taiwan has started a number of efforts for outreach to the public on AIDS prevention. In the course of the current five-year plan, much emphasis will be put on ‘safer sex’ education starting with the fifth grade in all elementary schools (Yamamoto and Itoh 2006: 235).
In Japan an AIDS research group was organised inside the Ministry of Health in 1983. The Japanese government opened up the first cabinet meeting on AIDS policy and established ‘General Guidelines for AIDS Response’ in 1987. The AIDS Prevention Act was enacted in 1989. This act put the emphasis on preventing the spread of HIV and did not consider the protection of human rights or approving the appropriate treatment for PwA/PwH. In 1999 the law as a whole on infectious diseases was revised and a new ‘Act on the Prevention of Infectious Diseases and Medical Care for Patients Suffering Infectious Diseases’ (Kansensho no yobo oyobi kansensho no kanja ni taisuru iryO ni kansuru hOritsu) was enacted in 1999. With this revision, the earlier ‘AIDS Prevention Act’ (Eizu yob0 hO) of 1989 was abolished. The new law sets out guidelines on the investigation of causation, the prevention of infection and curbing the spread of the disease, the provision of medical treatment, the development of research, international solidarity, respect for human rights, education and outreach, and cooperation with the relevant organisations. These guidelines are the present basis for AIDS policies. One of the most prominent features is the concept of ‘specific targeted group’. While the Previous AIDS Prevention Act targeted the whole population, the new law on infectious diseases focuses on specific groups perceived as vulnerable such as youth, foreigners, MSM, sex workers and their clients as the target groups who need concentrated support (Yamamoto and Itoh 2006: 129—38).
The South Korean government’s response to AIDS at the beginning of the epidemic was to find people infected with HIV and put them under government control. Some researchers, however, recognised that this kind of response was a failure and in early 1990 the government reconsidered and modified its response. The Korean government focused on providing people with HIV with treatment and other types of support. Furthermore, it encouraged prevention education for the general public. In 1987 the AIDS Prevention Law was enacted and the National Committee on AIDS was established. This law has been the basis for the responses to various AIDS prevention activities. While the law is intended to protect people from unreasonable discrimination and to maintain confidentiality for people with HIV/AIDS, it places the specific population and those who donate blood under the obligation to get HIV testing (Yamamoto and Itoh 2006: 163-66).