In June, the Chinese government hosted a delegation of East African government officials and HIV and drug treatment workers to share their experience of innovative harm reduction techniques being implemented in Yunnan province. The African delegates observed and learned about local approaches to needle and syringe exchange, community-based drug treatment, and take-home methadone treatment.

The take-home methadone programme was initiated by AIDS Care China (ACC, the Alliance Linking Organisation in China), which has advocated effectively to gain government support to scale up this model and for implementing other innovative harm reduction interventions.

Tina Luo, Executive Director of ACC, described her organisation’s approach to advocacy in China, and how it differs from the approach of its counterparts in other countries: “What AIDS Care China does is very innovative. Our approach is to lead from behind, not with protests or direct action, but rather work with the government.”

ACC partners with communities and government to develop and pilot innovative methods that are responsive to both the programmatic needs and political imperatives at play in China. They then use the results from the pilots to gain buy-in from municipal, provincial, and national officials. Once the higher echelons of the government are convinced of the interventions’ effectiveness, they are scaled up, funding is allocated, and policies are changed. The good practices are then promoted within China and abroad to consolidate support throughout the government and in communities.