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Step up the battle against HIV/AIDS, urges first lady

By Shan Juan | China Daily | Updated: 2014-10-21 07:48

China should do more in the fight against HIV/AIDS despite the disease affecting only 0.06 percent of its population, first lady Peng Liyuan said on Monday.

Peng said efforts should be stepped up to help sufferers, especially those in hard-hit areas.

There were 810,000 people with HIV/AIDS living in China at the end of last year, according to the latest update issued on Monday by the National Center for AIDS/STD Control and Prevention. But only 490,000 of these sufferers have been detected to date and the remainder are unaware of their status.

The estimate is updated every two years, and the previous one stood at 780,000.

Peng said efforts must be promoted in caring for those with the disease, in fighting discrimination, in giving patients access to medical care and in ensuring social justice. She was speaking at the 2014 National Conference on HIV/AIDS in Beijing.

Peng, the World Health Organization's goodwill ambassador for HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, said she will continue to meet the obligations of her WHO role.

She said she will also promote cooperation between China and other countries on HIV/AIDS prevention and control as part of the global fight against the disease.

Wu Zunyou, director of the National Center for AIDS/STD Control and Prevention, said HIV/AIDS has hit some regions of the country particularly hard. Nearly 45 percent of the reported cases are in Yunnan and Sichuan provinces and in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

In Sichuan, more than half of those with the disease live in the Liangshan Yi autonomous prefecture, which borders Yunnan and is near the Golden Triangle, where drugs - mostly heroin - are produced and trafficked, according to a paper published in the journal PLOS ONE in July.

The Golden Triangle comprises parts of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar.

The paper said a survey conducted in 2009 found the HIV rate among locals aged 25 to 34 had reached 24.4 percent in two towns of Butuo county, Liangshan.

"That's a super-high prevalence according to WHO standards, which categorize places with an HIV/AIDS prevalence of more than 1 percent as having a high HIV burden," Wu said. Drug use, unsafe sex and low public awareness have been blamed.

The disease is also highly prevalent in six other counties, mostly in Sichuan and Yunnan, he said.

Nobel laureate Francoise Barre-Sinoussi from the Institute Pasteur in France, co-discoverer of the AIDS virus, said at the conference that testing, treating and retaining patients remain huge challenges in the quest to rid the world of HIV/AIDS.

 Step up the battle against HIV/AIDS, urges first lady

First lady Peng Liyuan applauds after presenting an award to Francoise Barre-Sinoussi from the Institute Pasteur in France at the 2014 National Conference on HIV/AIDS in Beijing. Barre-Sinoussi won a Nobel Prize for identifying the virus.  Yao Dawei / Xinhua


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