Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao Appeals to Government, Public for Help in Fighting HIV/AIDS
July 13, 2004
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Saturday ahead of the XV International AIDS Conference in Bangkok, Thailand, released a public appeal for "all levels of government and the entire society [to] attach great importance to preventing and controlling AIDS," London's Guardian reports (Boseley, Guardian, 7/12). The Chinese government estimates that there are 840,000 HIV-positive people in the country and that 80,000 people have AIDS; however, some experts believe that those figures are an underestimate. The United Nations estimates that there are at least one million HIV-positive people in China (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/30). Wen said that the rural areas where most of the population lives presented the greatest challenge because of "backward hygiene and medical conditions" and because people in rural areas "are not well educated about legal and health issues" (Agence France-Presse, 7/9). Wen's statement, which was published on the front page of Chinese newspapers, called on Chinese scientists to "work hard to develop new drugs and optimize therapies" and said that prevention would be a "long-term, arduous task." In addition, Wen said that the country would invest more in the fight against the disease (Guardian, 7/12). Wen also called for expanded HIV testing -- 90% of HIV-positive people in the country are unaware of their status, according to government figures (Agence France-Presse, 7/9). UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot on Monday at a session on nongovernmental AIDS organizations in China said that Wen's statement showed that "China means business when it comes to AIDS." However, he said that the country must address AIDS-related stigma and other social issues, such as injection drug use, commercial sex workers and their clients and men who have sex with men (Associated Press, 7/12).
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This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.