AIDS fight set to get new boost

Updated: 2012-03-02 07:12

By Shan Juan (China Daily)

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Greater cooperation with public also vital, health official says

BEIJING - Organizations involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS will get greater government support, a health official said.

"The government will beef up investment and support for social groups" and cooperate with reliable ones, Yu Jingjin, director of the disease prevention and control bureau under the Ministry of Health, said.

Each province this year will support three to five civil societies tackling HIV/AIDS and help them with operational costs and training, he said.

His comments came amid concern over the withdrawal of money from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria next year.

The fund has been hit by the failure of international donors to meet their commitments.

Yu urged health authorities to work more with society in general to fight AIDS. Cooperation in this sphere has not always worked fully to its potential, he said.

Meanwhile, the ministry and the Ministry of Civil Affairs have carried out research to broaden cooperation with civil societies, he noted.

Under current regulations community-based organizations have difficulty registering at the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

This hinders their operations such as raising funds and claiming tax exemption.

The number of infected people should be below 1.2 million by 2015 according to targets publicized on Wednesday that were incorporated into the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15).

Official estimates put current infections at 780,000.

The targets envisage new HIV cases in 2015 dropping by 25 percent compared with 2010 and the AIDS death rate dropping by 30 percent.

"These are tough targets and it will take hard work for us to meet them," Yu said.

Yu urged local governments not to be complacent about what has been achieved as the country was still facing huge challenges to curb HIV/AIDS.

A surge in deaths has occurred in recent years as those infected gradually developed full-blown AIDS, he said.

China reported 21,234 AIDS deaths last year, up 11.8 percent over 2010. It is the leading fatal infectious disease in China since 2008, official statistics showed.

Tracking sufferers can be difficult and there have been cases where full-blown AIDS was evident even before HIV testing had taken place, he said.

And intervention is difficult because most transmissions occur during intimate moments. This is why education about the virus and AIDS is so important, he said.

Of the new reported HIV/AIDS cases in 2011, nearly 79 percent were due to unsafe sex, both heterosexual and homosexual.

"The epidemic and its transmission is more complex now," said Wu Zunyou, director of the National Center for AIDS/STD Control and Prevention.

Wu said that the percentage of young students and old people becoming infected has increased.

Last year, national health departments recorded more than 84 million HIV antibody tests, up 30 percent over 2010.

Intervention and prevention has targeted more susceptible groups, such as sex workers and homosexuals, Yu said.

To better reach these groups, "community organizations play an indispensable role", he said.