China vows to curb AIDS spread
Updated: 2005-12-01 10:00
China must keep its number of HIV-infected people under 1.5 million in the
next five years or risk social instability and a possible economic downturn, the
country's top health official said Wednesday.
AIDS prevention and control are key to China's "economic development, social
stability and prosperity," Health Minister Gao Qiang said at a news conference
ahead of World AIDS Day on Thursday. "A good job in AIDS prevention and
treatment is a must for the government at all levels."
The government has
earmarked $100 million for AIDS prevention and treatment this year ¡ª eight times
more than in 2002 ¡ª with the money to be used for treatment, education and
testing, Gao said.
A resident signs on a banner to promote the
prevention of HIV/AIDS in Fuzhou, East China's Fujian Province November
30, 2005. [Xinhua]
"The Chinese government can effectively control the momentum of the spread of
AIDS in the country," he said. "We need to increase funding, enhance
surveillance, increase the spread of information and education on the disease."
China says it has 840,000 people infected with HIV and 80,000 with full-blown
AIDS. But the United Nations' AIDS agency says that the true figure is likely
higher, and that up to 10 million could be infected by 2010 without more
Gao said HIV transmission through shared intravenous drug needles and
unprotected sex has "risen rapidly in recent years." He did not give more
However, the incidence of infection by blood transfusion has fallen sharply
due to repeated campaigns since the 1990s, Gao said.
HIV gained an early foothold in China, largely due to unsanitary blood
plasma-buying schemes and tainted transfusions in hospitals.
AIDS activists have criticized China's government for being slow to admit the
extent of the disease there.
Earlier this year, the government opted to promote anti-HIV strategies that
the government had previously considered taboo, such as free condoms and needle
Another new program, set to be launched Thursday to mark World AIDS Day,
targets China's growing population of migrant workers. Most of the tens of
millions who have left the countryside to seek work in cities have no regular
access to health care.
In recent years, Beijing has become increasingly open about AIDS and has
offered free testing and counseling, as well as free treatment for the poor.