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China to improve HIV/AIDS monitoring
Updated: 2004-11-25 00:01

Chinese Executive Vice Health Minister Gao Qiang said here Thursday that China will strengthen surveillance of HIV/AIDS so as to curb the spread of the disease.

 China has an estimated 840,000 HIV carriers and 80,000 AIDS patients. However, only about 80,000 HIV carriers are officially recorded. A large percentage of people living with HIV are off the record and some even don't know they are infected.

Gao told officials from the United Nations Theme Group on HIV/ AIDS in China that China has started nationwide HIV testing among the people who used to sell blood.

"We will also search for HIV carriers among prisoners and people in the drug abstention house," he said.

In addition, China has strengthened its HIV/AIDS surveillance and reporting network. Gao said so far the country has set up 194 national HIV/AIDS monitoring stations, more than 2,000 HIV screening labs and 49 confirmation labs.

 "Only when we get to know the exact number of China's HIV carriers and AIDS patients, can treatment be carried out effectively," he said.

In 2003, the Chinese government announced that it will offer free anti-retroviral therapy to AIDS patients in rural areas and urban AIDS patients with financial difficulties.

Chinese actor Pu Cunxin [R] performs with HIV carriers in Chengdu, capital of Southwest China's Sichuan Province on November 22. [newsphoto]
"We hope the free anti-retroviral therapy will soon be expanded to cover all the places of China," he said.

Meanwhile, the vice minister said the Chinese government will continue to promote the intervention measures targeting high risk behaviors. These include the 100 percent use of condoms in entertainment clubs and methadone maintenance therapy among intravenous drug users.

In the meeting, Gao also expressed China's appreciation of international assistance.

 "Our work can't be done without the care and help of the international community," he said. "As a responsible country, China is committed to playing a bigger role in the global fight against HIV/AIDS and the construction of a global public health network."

 Khalid Malik, resident coordinator of the UN System in China, said the UN Theme Group on HIV/AIDS in China will continue to work together with China in the areas of surveillance, treatment, intervention and evaluation.

 The UN Theme Group on HIV/AIDS in China was established in 1996. It has been working closely with the Chinese side in HIV/AIDS prevention and control in recent years. In 2003, the organization issued an assessment report on HIV/AIDS in China together with China's Health Ministry.

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