China Is "Strongly Committed" to Fighting HIV/AIDS, Official Says
August 17, 2006
Zunyu Wu, director of the National Center for AIDS/STD Control and Prevention at China's Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday at the XVI International AIDS Conference in Toronto said the country plans to continue taking steps to control the spread of HIV in the country, AFP/Today Online reports. "The Chinese government is strongly committed to fighting HIV/AIDS," Zunyu said, adding that China by 2010 aims to have no more than 1.5 million people living with the virus (AFP/Today Online, 8/16). The Chinese government estimates that there are 650,000 HIV-positive people in the country, 75,000 of whom have developed AIDS. According to the government, in 2005 there were 70,000 new HIV cases and 25,000 AIDS-related deaths. In addition, the country's current HIV/AIDS prevalence is approximately 0.05%, according to governmental statistics (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/12). "If the [prevalence] rate increases to 4% that would still be low -- but it would mean 52 million new infections," Zunyu said. To tackle the disease, China has increased funding for HIV/AIDS programs from $20 million annually in 2002 to $100 million annually in 2005. The country also has criminalized discrimination against HIV-positive people, has passed laws to protect patient data, provides antiretroviral drugs and HIV tests at no cost and promotes HIV/AIDS awareness and condom use. In addition, the country has opened needle exchange-programs at 92 sites and plans to establish an additional 1,400 in the next three years. The country also has implemented a policy that provides heroin users with a methadone substitute. Former President Clinton on Tuesday in a speech at the conference said, "China, once in a state of denial, deserves all of our respect for turning on a dime and acknowledging the problem and approaching it systematically." Zunyu said the country still faces several obstacles to combating the disease, including limited access to HIV tests -- 145,000 of the estimated 650,000 HIV-positive people in the country have been tested -- HIV-related stigma and homophobia (AFP/Today Online, 8/16).
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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.