Program to help AIDS prevention

By Guan Xiaofeng and Shan Juan (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-01-27 07:31

China on Friday launched a national program on HIV/AIDS prevention and care in the workplace.

The $3.5 million HIV/AIDS Workplace Education Program, funded by the United States Department of Labor, will be overseen by the International Labour Organization (ILO), and implemented in the provinces of Anhui, Guangdong and Yunnan.

"China is now at a critical stage in fighting HIV/AIDS," said Hu Xiaoyi, vice-minister of Labor and Social Security, during the launching of the program in Beijing. "We should try our best to prevent the spread of the disease from high-risk groups to the general public."

Hu believed the 39-month program would be a good model to promote China's anti-AIDS education policy and implementation.

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Hu said another five-year education program, jointly launched by 12 ministries in 2005, had set a target of making 85 percent of the nation's rural migrant workers knowledgeable about HIV/AIDS prevention by 2010.

The Regulation on AIDS Prevention and Control stipulated that no employer or individual should discriminate against people with HIV/AIDS or their relatives. The regulation protects their rights of marriage, employment, medical care and education.

Richard Howard, an ILO official and the program's chief technical adviser, said the program is aimed at eliminating discrimination against people with HIV/AIDS in workplaces and reducing the high-risk behavior among target groups.

Howard said the program would provide training to government officials at national and provincial levels and help them to systematically develop guidelines and policies.

"We will motivate enterprises that employ a large number of rural migrant workers to join our program and urge them to fully implement HIV guidelines," Howard said.

"Our goal is that all workers with HIV/AIDS are well protected.

"They can get jobs, keep jobs and have access to AIDS prevention services, such as education, treatment and voluntary testing and counselling," he said.

Statistics by the ministry shows in some of the provinces, working-age HIV/AIDS people account for 90 per cent of the total infected population and a majority of them are under 35 years old.

(China Daily 01/27/2007 page2)

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