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Bill Clinton visits AIDS orphans in China
Updated: 2005-09-09 08:36

Former US President Bill Clinton met with a number of Chinese AIDS patients on Thursday in his private tour to two different regions in the country.

Clinton met eight orphans whose parents died from AIDS in the provincial capital Zhengzhou yesterday. Clinton is also scheduled to visit Beijing on his China visit. [newsphoto]

Clinton met in the morning with eight children infected by AIDS in Zhengzhou, capital of central China's Henan province, where he was on an unofficial visit.

The eight, aged between 7 and 12, were selected from 83 kids living in the province who receive pediatric drugs donated by the Clinton Foundation.

Liu Xuezhou, vice director of the provincial Health Bureau, told Clinton that these 83 children have responded positively to treatment received in July this year.

Clinton praised the bureau and the Henan provincial government for their efforts and achievements in combating HIV/AIDS, stressing that children should get pediatric treatment and special medicine because their bodies are different.

Henan, severely hit by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, was the first province in China to receive pediatric drugs from the Clinton Foundation, according to Ruby Shang, director of the foundation's China office.

There are some 200 AIDS children benefiting from such drugs nationwide, according to Shang.

Geng Long, one of the eight children, said in his thank-you letter to Clinton that his skin diseases had faded away since he began taking drugs in July.

Former US president Bill Clinton poses with Chinese AIDS suferer Song Pengfei at a AIDS prevention seminar held in Beijing on November 10, 2004. [baidu]

Since leaving office, the former US president has been engaged in delivering HIV therapies to needy countries through the Clinton Foundation, a non-governmental organization.

The foundation's China AIDS project and its donation of pediatric drugs to the Chinese children came after the foundation signed a memorandum of understanding with China's Health Ministry.

In the MOU, the foundation promised to provide technical assistance in AIDS care and treatment to China.

After meeting with the kids, Clinton delivered a keynote speech on the relationship between the US economy and Chinese development.

In his speech, he said although China had made great achievements in the past two decades in many fields, it still faces tough challenges in energy procurement, environmental protection, public health and political reform.

Completing his less than 12-hour tour in Zhengzhou, Clinton flew to Kunming, capital of southwest China's Yunnan Province, where he met some adult AIDS patients in a hospital and visited the provincial disease control center.

"Many projects are helpful and should serve more people. It's healthy and safe here," said Clinton.

Yunnan started its cooperation with Clinton's foundation in June this year. During the three-year project, AIDS patients in some remote areas in Yunnan are expected to get treatment under the help of the foundation.

Clinton is scheduled to leave for Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in northwest China late Thursday night.

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