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Vice minister vows to fight AIDS
( 2003-09-23 14:50) (Xinhua)

China has always attached great importance to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, and is willing to contribute to the fulfillment of global control of HIV/ AIDS, said a senior Chinese health official on Monday.

Addressing the HIV/AIDS High-level Meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, Chinese Executive Vice Minister of Health Gao Qiang said the Chinese government appreciates highly the relentless efforts and the outstanding contributions made by the United Nations in promoting global actions against HIV/AIDS.

Gao said the Chinese government has treated the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS, a serious threat to public health and safety, as a strategic issue for social stability, economic growth and national prosperity and security, and has given top priority to this endeavor.

He noted that top Chinese leaders, including President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, have shown great concern over HIV/ AIDS prevention, care and treatment and have time and again given specific instructions to the departments concerned to improve their work.

Drawing on the experience and lessons learned in the past decade, the Chinese public health authorities have established the principle of focusing on prevention, integrating prevention with treatment and adopting comprehensive measures to deal with HIV/ AIDS, he said.

The Chinese government has also drawn up a medium and long term strategic plan and action plan to prevent and control HIV/AIDS, while taking actions to crack down on such criminal activities as illegal blood collecting, smuggling, drug trafficking and prostitution, he said.

Meanwhile, the central and local governments have allocated 6.8 billion yuan (US$822.2 million) to establish and improve disease prevention and control mechanism in various provinces, and invested 2.25 billion yuan (US$272 million) to improve and upgrade the blood stations in China's central and western regions.

He said China is now developing a nationwide HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment mechanism featuring "government leadership, multi-sector cooperation and public participation." However, the minister noted that HIV/AIDS has not been brought under effective control in China. Citing the initial analysis of a joint HIV/AIDS epidemiological survey conducted in cooperation with World Health Organization (WHO) and Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), he said China has about 840,000 HIV/ AIDS infections, including 80,000 HIV/AIDS patients.

He warned that China is still faced with arduous tasks in its HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, citing a big income gap among different regions, underdevelopment in rural areas and criminal offenses like drug trafficking and prostitution that helped spread HIV/AIDS.

He pledged the Chinese government's determination to contain the prevalence and spread of HIV/AIDS, and outlined a number of measures to improve the prevention and treatment of the epidemic.

These include:

--Strengthening government efforts to fulfill its responsibility, clarifying targets, improving evaluation, supervision and monitoring and holding officials or departments in charge accountable for negligence;

--Providing free treatment and medicines for economically-strained HIV/AIDS patients in urban areas and all patients in rural areas; with the central and local governments investing@than 10 billion yuan (US$120 million) to strengthen the medical assistance system for people with infectious diseases;

--Improving laws and regulations, intensifying intervention against dangerous behaviors, conducting public awareness campaigns and promoting drug-free community and health sexual life;

--Protecting the legitimate rights of HIV/AIDS patients, providing them with economic aid, and opposing social discrimination against them;

--Promoting international cooperation and pledging 10 million dollars to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

The General Assembly high-level meeting on HIV-AIDS opened Monday morning and is expected to last until late on Monday.

Representatives from more than 130 UN member states and international organizations, including 18 heads of state and government were expected to speak at the meeting.

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