A new draft of health standards for teaching candidates in Guangdong province has sparked fierce debate.
According to the standards, which were published on Monday, HIV carriers and AIDS patients will not be allowed to be teachers in the province.
Xu Xinghua, a lawyer in Kunming, capital of Yunnan province, said the standards violate the country's laws and discriminate against AIDS patients and HIV carriers.
"China has laws and regulations protecting the rights of people with HIV and AIDS, including the right to employment. Denying them the jobs they deserve is depriving them of their right to contribute to society and earn a living," Xu told China Daily.
"China still has a long way to go to eliminate HIV/AIDS discrimination in the workplace," he said.
Lu Jun, head of the Beijing-based public health advocacy group Yirenping, said the planned provincial standards contradict national laws and regulations on AIDS and employment.
He urged the authorities in Guangdong to adjust the standards and treat those with HIV/AIDS as ordinary citizens.
However, some Guangdong residents said that they are in favor of the standards. They added that keeping people with HIV and AIDS away from schools would prevent the disease from spreading among teachers and students.
The provincial department of education could not be reached for comment on Monday.
Last year, Xu represented an HIV carrier in a case against the education and personnel bureaus in Yanbian county, Sichuan province.
The man, a 28-year-old Yanbian resident who wanted to be a teacher, tested positive for HIV during a mandatory medical examination, which he had to undergo before becoming a teacher at a government-run school.
After learning about the test results, the county's education bureau declined to offer him the job.
"People with HIV and AIDS have filed similar cases against the authorities and have lost their lawsuits in other places," Xu said.
"But such cases have helped to raise concern and awareness from society about the need to protect the legal rights of people with HIV and AIDS," he said.
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