China Sends Health Workers Into the Streets to Educate on World AIDS Day
December 1, 2003
Today, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited Beijing's Ditan Hospital and spoke with AIDS patients, signaling a new openness on HIV/AIDS by the Chinese government. Health workers hit the streets to mark World AIDS Day, teach prevention, and distribute condoms to migrant construction workers, an at-risk group.Adapted from:
"[Migrant workers] have sexual needs, but they don't have knowledge [about AIDS], so it's very easy for them to spread it," said Li Xiaohong of the Beijing Center for Disease Control. Although HIV/AIDS in China is confined mainly to intravenous drug users and people who contracted it through tainted blood-buying operations, Siri Tellier, chair of the UN Theme Group on HIV/AIDS in China, said migrant workers could be "the next wave." She said there was no widespread blood testing in the country and called on Beijing to improve its monitoring.
China Daily newspaper, citing a new survey by the Health Ministry, the World Health Organization and UNAIDS, said 840,000 people have HIV in China and 80,000 have AIDS. The numbers could be higher since many people hide their HIV status because of stigma.
Executive Vice Health Minister Gao Qiang warned last month that China is falling short in its fight against HIV/AIDS. "China is still faced with arduous tasks," he said. He promised free antiretrovirals to 5,000 low-income patients this year, a figure health officials say will rise to 40,000 by 2008.
Peng Jing, deputy director of the Shanghai Health Administration, said cases there rose 6 percent from last year. Today, health workers in white coats distributed pamphlets and free condoms outside Shanghai's main train station. The number of cases also rose in Beijing.
Chinese officials and the UN warn that 10 million people could be infected by 2020 without better prevention efforts.
12.01.03; Audra Ang
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.