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HIV/AIDS treatment centre created
By Zhang Feng (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-06-02 22:20

A special centre for infectious diseases will be established in Beijing to improve China's capacity for treating an increasing number of patients attacked by epidemics such as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), HIV/AIDS and hepatitis.

"The centre will be strongly supported by advanced foreign medications and devices for infectious diseases, which are getting increasing attention in China," Wang Guiqiang said.

Wang is the director of infectious diseases department of the First Hospital with Peking University.

Strongly supported by the Ministry of Health, the Peking University has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the CST Technology Group, LLC of the United States to establish the centre.

China has greatly strengthened its infectious surveillance and prevention system which was seriously challenged last year by the unexpected SARS crisis.

Meanwhile, medical treatment on emerging diseases, such as SARS, and established ones like hepatitis and HIV/AIDS, also require new medications, medical staff and devices. The shortage of qualified doctors and medical devices, and expensive medicines are big obstacles for China to control HIV/AIDS, according to Wang Longde, vice minister of the Ministry of Health.

The ministry estimated that there are 840,000 HIV/AIDS cases including 80,000 patients in China. And the number of AIDS patients is increasing rapidly.

Most of these HIV/AIDS cases cannot get enough medicines and medical services, experts say.

Exclusively representing many pioneering companies and experts in the United States and Europe, the CST has ability to introduce necessary medications and treatments proved effective to the centre and other hospitals of China, said John K Tse, CST's chairman.

Meanwhile, CST has a special advisory group with senior consultants who are advisers to many of the world's leading pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies or heads of entire hospital systems.

Many clinical trials of new medicines that were invented or conducted by these advisers can be introduced to the new centre and in China at the same time, Tse added.

The price of the new medicines can be greatly reduced after trials are finished and some can be produced in China, Tse told China Daily in an exclusive interview.

For example, one of the advisers on the panel is Jeffrey Galpin, a clinical associate professor of medicine from University of South California, widely regarded as the founder of HIV/AIDS treatment in American.

Galpin has been the supervisor of David Ho, the inventor of the AIDS "cocktail" treatment method.

Presently, there are only five kinds of anti-HIV medicines that can be produced in China, which provide quite shabby options for taking "cocktail" treatment.

In American, dozens of anti-HIV medicines have been created, but cannot be used widely by Chinese victims due to the high import prices and patent protection.

"It will be a wise choice for developed foreign companies to reduce their medicine prices through enlarging co-operation with Chinese side in clinical trial and production, otherwise, they will lose a huge market," Tse said.

The CST will also make ceaseless efforts to help Chinese doctors including those from the new centre to receive training in a number of prestigious universities of the United States, Tse noted.

Along with Beijing University, the CST also signed a memorandum of understanding for assistance in establishing the centre for infectious disease control at Kunming Medical College in Yunnan Province.

"We do the co-operation with Yunnan side because we are encouraged by Wang Longde, who once said that foreign assistance needs to pay more attention to China's remote areas," Tse said.

The preparation work for the centre in Beijing has almost been finished, and it is expected to be opened soon, Wang Guiqiang said.

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