Pupils line up to form an anti-Aids symbol during an HIV/AIDS
awareness rally at a primary school in Hefei, east China's Anhui province
November 30, 2006. The number of reported HIV/AIDS cases in China has
grown by nearly 30 percent so far this year, the Health Ministry said on
Wednesday, warning that the virus seemed to be spreading from high-risk
groups to the general public. [Reuters]
BEIJING -- After a year of clinical trials, two new, low-cost HIV/AIDS
drugs developed by Chinese researchers have proved effective, the Ministry of
Science and Technology announced Friday.
Li Taisheng, who worked on the research team, said the new drug regimens are
equally effective and have similar side effects as imported AIDS treatment
The China-made therapies are only a sixth of the cost of imported drugs,
according to Wang Aixia, another researcher with the program.
"A patient needs to spend about 3000 yuan (375 U.S. dollar) a month for an
imported drug therapy per month, while the domestic therapy will cut the cost to
500 yuan," Wang said.
China has now developed five anti-HIV drugs, said Li, adding that different
combinations of the drugs can provide different therapies.
Antiretroviral therapies or so-called "AIDS cocktails," which are comprised
of of three or more anti-HIV drugs are the most effective therapy of HIV/AIDS
treatment so far developed and they can help people with HIV live longer, more
productive lives, according to Li.
Li's research was jointly funded by the Ministry of Public Health and the
Ministry of Science and Technology in 2005. Last March, Li divided 198 HIV
carriers and AIDS patients into three groups which where given different
A year later, Li's team found therapies given patients of two of the groups
proved most effective and those are being recommended for application.
The Health Ministry reported last week that the number of people officially
reported infected with HIV infected in China had risen 27.5 percent since the
beginning of the year, to more than 180,000 at the end of October.
Experts estimate that China the actual number of people infected with HIV in
China is 650,000 including 75,000 who have developed AIDS.
Since early 2003, the Chinese government began offering free antiretroviral
drugs to all HIV carriers once they begin to show symptoms of AIDS.
By the end of October 2006, free medical treatment was being offered in 862
counties of 31 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions of the country,
the Ministry of Health said.
By the end of this October, 28,757 patients had received the "cocktail"
treatment and that number is expected to reach 30,000 by the end of this year,
according to the ministry.
In the West patients have about 20 drugs that can be used in their cocktail
therapy. Hao Yang, an official with the Health Ministry, said the Chinese
government was to persuade several foreign companies to reduce the price of
their drugs under patent protection, or to allow Chinese companies to jointly
"The Chinese government is doing everything it can to help more people get
the treatment they need," Hao said.