Thursday, June 09, 2005

China More Pragmatic than Texas?

ABCNews is carrying an AP story about recent recommendations by the Chinese Health Ministry about ways to combat the spread of HIV in that nation. The recommendations? Needle exchange for drug users, condoms for sex workers and people diagnosed with STDs.

In Texas, we couldn't go that far. SB 127, Senator Jon Lindsay's bill to allow needle exchange programs where local health authorities wanted them, passed on second reading by a 17-9 vote (5 absent) but then couldn't get called back for a third reading. You can see the vote and discussion here. HB 2057, Garnet Coleman's bill to allow condom distribution in prisons and jails, received a committee hearing on April 21, but did not get a favorable vote. Both bills died at the end of the session.

China took a long time to acknowledge that there was any HIV epidemic in that nation. It was slow to reveal the problems with blood infusions. It has penalized health officials for speaking out about the risks for infection. This makes it all the more significant that China is now apparently ready to get serious about fighting HIV. The epidemic has been in the public eye a lot longer in Texas. Too bad our leaders can't seem to learn as fast as those in China.

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