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Official AIDS orphanage to debut in China
Updated: 2004-06-16 14:30

China's first official orphanage will be built for children whose parents died of AIDS as a new sign the nation firmly combats the deadly disease and supports AIDS victims.

AIDS orphans enjoy a fun-filled visit to the Great Wall in the Programme of Happiness on June 1, 2004. [China Daily]
Premier Wen Jiabao said on a tour of Hubei province that AIDS orphans would also receive financial assistance, while in Beijing it has been decided that AIDS prevention education is to be made mandatory for high school students.

The orphanage is to be built in Shangcai county, one of the worst hit areas in central China's Henan province.

Covering two hectares, the project will start this year and cost 3.5 million yuan (423,216 dollars) for the first phase, said Huang Mengfu, chairman of the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce.

AIDS orphans aged from six to nine would be admitted, Xinhua news agency reported.

"As a special and disadvantaged social group, AIDS orphans deserve the most love and assistance from society," Huang said.

"They not only suffer a low-quality material life, but also meet with discrimination, which is completely unfair."

Gao Yaojie, China's most prominent AIDS activist, has told AFP she believes the ratio of patients to orphans in China is around 1:2, perhaps higher.

China has recently estimated it has 840,000 people with HIV or AIDS.

International experts have warned the figures could blow out to 10 million by 2010 unless urgent action is taken.

Premier Wen said the government was giving top priority to HIV/AIDS and plans to publish official figures on those affected.

"The government will increase its allocations for fighting the disease and continue to offer free treatment for people who have been infected by the virus," he was cited as saying by Xinhua.

He added that free and anonymous medical checks would be provided and free "efforts to separate infants from their HIV-carrying mothers, and financial assistance for orphans left by parents who have died of AIDS".

In Beijing, the China Daily reported that AIDS prevention education would become mandatory for high school students from this autumn semester.

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