CHINA> National
Donation to help AIDS orphans return to school
Updated: 2009-03-10 00:29

BEIJING -- A Chinese charity organization Monday pledged a donation of some 3.57 million yuan ($522,000) to help about 180 AIDS orphans go back to school.

The Beijing-based China Red Ribbon Foundation said the money would be used to help a primary school in Longchuan County in southwestern province of Yunnan to build a three-story building with 15 classrooms.

It would be able to accommodate at least 180 students who were forced to discontinue their education due to lack of support after they were orphaned by the AIDS virus, the foundation said in a statement on its Web site.

The organization, launched by private entrepreneurs, signed an agreement on the donation with Longchuan county government here on Monday.

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The border county neighboring Myanmar has been identified as one of most seriously affected areas by HIV/AIDS in China, largely due to drug abuse.

It is estimated that 845 children of school age have been orphaned by AIDS in Longchuan, where there are 31,300 students in total. Although many orphans have been enrolled to study, many remain as drop-outs, said the foundation.

The organization could not be reached immediately to provide more information about HIV/AIDS epidemic in Longchuan.

A report released by the Ministry of Health last month said AIDS had become the country's top killer among infectious diseases, claiming 6,897 lives from January to September in 2008.

The MOH confirmed 264,302 accumulated cases of HIV/AIDS by September last year, since the country's first AIDS-related death was reported in 1985. Of those infected, 34,864 have died.

This has aroused concerns about the fate of children whose parents die from AIDS. According to an estimation made in 2005 by the China Work Committee on Care for Children,the number of AIDS orphans in China could reach to 260,000 by 2010, from some 76,000 in 2005.