Participants Drop Out of Chinese Antiretroviral Distribution Program Because of Side Effects, Lack of Medical Staff
July 16, 2003
China three months ago began providing free antiretroviral drugs to thousands of HIV-positive people who contracted the disease through unsafe medical practices at government-sponsored blood-collection stations, but the drugs' side effects and a lack of qualified medical staff have led many people to drop out of the program, experts said yesterday, Agence France-Presse reports (Sui, Agence France-Presse, 7/15). According to the United Nations, China had between 800,000 and 1.5 million HIV-positive people as of December 2001, and the number could grow to 10 million by 2010 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/15). The Chinese government earlier this year began producing and distributing generic versions of antiretroviral drugs, including zidovudine, didanosine and stavudine, along with two imported brand-name drugs -- Stocrin and Combivir -- to HIV-positive people in the provinces of Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Anhui and Sichuan. An estimated 200 people are receiving drugs in Anhui, 420 in Hubei, 61 in Sichuan and a program was just launched to distribute the drugs in Hunan. The Henan program, which started in early April, has distributed drugs to about 2,550 people in Shangcai county, 200 in Xincai county and 120 in Queshan county.
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