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One Million China Students to Lead AIDS Fight

December 3, 2002

Long criticized for ignoring a potential explosion of the epidemic, China marked World AIDS Day by launching new prevention and awareness campaigns.

At Beijing's Great Hall of the People, the government announced it would send 1 million students into the countryside during the next year to promote HIV prevention and to persuade people not to discriminate against AIDS patients. In a graphic message to the nation's 1.3 billion people that AIDS is not spread by casual contact, top actor Pu Cunxin hugged AIDS patients.

Experts fear, however, that the efforts may already be too late to head off a rapid spread. The US Central Intelligence Agency estimates that in just seven years, China will have 10 million to 20 million AIDS patients. India, the CIA predicts, will have the world's most patients: 20 million to 25 million. The UN estimates that all of Asia-Pacific now has 7.2 million HIV patients. While most Asian populations have an HIV prevalence of less than 1 percent, the 7.2 million figure is a 10 percent increase over last year. In some parts of India and China, the UN estimates, infection rates are reaching 10-20 percent. Experts fear that the disease is on the verge of breaking out from the most vulnerable groups -- homosexuals and needle-sharing drug users -- and into the general population.

That is why countries such as China are cranking up their publicity machines. On Saturday, the government brought about 1,000 people to a village hall outside Beijing and showed them documentaries on how AIDS spreads and how to avoid it. The official Xinhua news agency said the programs would be broadcast on 1,000 local TV stations, reaching about half the nation's people.

Ray Yip of UNICEF said China has three or four years to contain the spread of HIV so it does not become a "hyper epidemic" country, and he praised the government for starting to make serious efforts. "They're willing to bring out the faces, willing to say that discrimination is unacceptable," he said.

Back to other CDC news for December 3, 2002

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Adapted from:
New York Times
12.01.02; Reuters

This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
Chinese HIV/AIDS Organizations
Quiz: Are You at Risk for HIV?
10 Common Fears About HIV Transmission
More on HIV Prevention in China


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