Chinese Official Calls for National Effort to Fight AIDS, Says People Covering Up Epidemic Will Be "Severely Punished"
April 9, 2004
Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi on Wednesday called for a national effort to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS in the country, adding that officials found trying to cover up the epidemic would be "severely punished," AFP/Channel News Asia reports (AFP/Channel News Asia, 4/8). 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 underestimates. The United Nations estimates that there are at least one million HIV-positive people in China, and that number could grow to 20 million people by 2010 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/23). Speaking at a national HIV/AIDS control conference in Beijing, Wu said that the epidemic is at a "critical point," according to BBC News. He added, "We can completely contain the momentum if we take it seriously" (BBC News, 4/8). Ray Yip, director of the China-U.S. AIDS Prevention and Care Project, who also spoke at the conference, said that the country still has a "window of opportunity" to prevent the virus from spreading from high-risk groups -- including sex workers and injection drugs users -- to the general population. Wu called on local officials to strengthen prevention education, stop illegal blood sales, prevent in-hospital infections through unsafe blood transfusions, increase the availability of condoms and sterile needles and improve surveillance and monitoring of the epidemic, according to AFP/Channel News Asia. Many local officials do not know how many HIV/AIDS cases exist in their areas and are reluctant to report them for fear of scaring off foreign investors, AFP/Channel News Asia reports (AFP/Channel News Asia, 4/8). However, Wu said that officials must report information on the epidemic "timely and faithfully," adding, "[A]ny people who intend to hide the epidemic ... will be severely punished."
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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.