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Population Movement and HIV/AIDS: The case of Ruili, Yunnan, China




Authors: Jacques du Guerny, Lee-Nah Hsu and Cao Hong

A joint publication of UNDP and CIDA



Ruili is one of the cities in China where HIV was first detected. It demonstrates the complexity of HIV/AIDS epidemics. Ruili, located close to the Myanmar border in South West China, illustrates migration and the underlying development forces which stimulate it. These critical factors must be considered when developing HIV intervention strategies.
Dealing with HIV/AIDS in cities such as Ruili seems straightforward on the surface. Traditional health care approaches to HIV, which target high-risk population groups, e.g. entertainment service workers and injecting drag users and implemented through the formal health care system, seem to apply. However, below the surface, the reality is much more complex. A highly mobile migrant population interacting with the underlying poverty, geographic location and thriving trade system contributes to the complexity of the epidemic. The epidemic is intensified by population movements, where HIV is both brought into and carried out of Ruili and its surrounding areas.
Ruili's case aptly demonstrates the fact that HIV epidemcs cannot be dealt with solely at a local level. Instead, Ruili's role in the larger regional HIV system must be considered. Moreover, the Ruili case shows that to ensure effective solutions to HIV epidemics that move beyond short term answers and immediate factors, population movements and the underlying long term development elements must be addressed. In addition, Ruili illustrates that for HIV/AIDS policies to be effective, one must take a multisectoral approach. This would require regional intercountry collaborations because population movements and the associated underlying development causes cut across sectoral lines and international boundaries.

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August 2003