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China uses databank to battle HIV/AIDS
By Wang Zhenghua (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-08-27 07:08

A project that employs a fresh, more rigorous approach to the analysis of HIV-related data as a basis for policy-making was introduced to representatives from the Ministry of Health, the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, and several international agencies on Friday.

According to Shen Jie, deputy director of the centre, the country has accumulated a wealth of information during its struggle with HIV/AIDS in recent years. "But it's a weak point for our policy-makers to use these data effectively," Shen said at a meeting that introduced the project, called "Integrated Analysis and Advocacy," in Beijing.

In addition, a scientific approach to evaluating the mainland's efforts to combat the pandemic is absent, said Hao Yang, deputy director of the Ministry of Health. The project is expected to help solve this problem.

"We will build a shared understanding of what we know and what we don't about HIV/AIDS," said Tim Brown from the East-West Centre, one of the implementing agencies, based in Hawaii, the United States.

"We will paint a clear picture of where the epidemic is and where it's going, and use that picture to choose the most effective programmes and policies," he said.

The project has been launched in several countries and regions in Asia, including Southwest China's Yunnan Province and South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

In Guangxi, the scheme is helping to analyze how limited resources should be distributed.

In one of the region's hit hardest by the virus, more than half of intravenous drug users in Nanning, Wuzhou and Nandan share needles.

But the rate of HIV infection in these areas is quite different, according to Zhu Qiuying from the region's disease control and prevention department.

In Yunnan, the project has gone beyond an agreement and reached the auxiliary stage of policy-making, said Chen Juemin, director of the provincial health department.

He also said the project provided a good mechanism for formulating a medium and long-term strategy for HIV/AIDS prevention and control in the province.

"The country as a whole also needs a medium and long-term strategy to combat the deadly disease," Shen said.

She said the project will help determine how policies affect the prevalence of the disease and help calculate costs of treatment programmes.

The project is being implemented by Family Health International, the East-West Centre and the Future Group/POLICY project, in partnership with the Yunnan and Guangxi disease control and prevention departments.

(China Daily 08/27/2005 page2)

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