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Int'l AIDS group opens Beijing office
( 2003-10-21 01:58) (China Daily)

A Chinese office of the Global AIDS Programme opened in Beijing Tuesday, boosting the fight against HIV/AIDS in the country.

The Chinese office is the 25th to be set up by this worldwide group, which is sponsored by the United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in response to the international AIDS crisis.

The programme will bring an additional US$15 million to AIDS prevention and treatment in the coming five years. It will also provide a team of experts to help China strengthen and accelerate its efforts to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Julie Gerberding, director of the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, made the commitments at the launch of the office yesterday.

Gerberding said the major aims of this co-operative project are to do more to prevent HIV/AIDS, care for those infected and contain localized HIV/AIDS epidemics by preventing secondary transmission from source populations to the general public.

According to an initial analysis of HIV/AIDS epidemiological data, China had about 840,000 people with HIV/AIDS, including 80,000 HIV/AIDS patients, by the end of last month.

HIV/AIDS is spreading at an annual rate of 30 per cent, according to the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to Li Liming, director of the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, China is at risk of a generalized epidemic that could result in an estimated 10 million HIV infected people by 2010.

Most patients -- 63.7 per cent -- were infected through intravenous drug use. Unsafe plasma sales, and sexual transmission accounted for 9.3 and 8.1 per cent of infections respectively. But transmission through unsafe sex is increasing, said Li.

And about 70 per cent of China's HIV/AIDS victims are too poor to afford the medical treatment they need.

PROJECT: Steps to control AIDS

The new China/US collaborative programme will strengthen national and local surveillance systems for HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases.

It will also improve the existing network of HIV testing services to offer better voluntary counselling and testing services for more effective prevention and care.

The programme will also develop care and treatment models for rural communities. It will assure the quality of the current efforts to start HIV therapy. And it will support strategic planning, advocacy and health communication as part of the overall integrated HIV response programme at provincial and local levels.

The work will be done by the programme office with support from Chinese health authorities at various levels in the 56 poverty-stricken counties of seven provinces. Some provinces, such as Southwest China's Yunnan and Central China's Henan, are likely to be hit hard by HIV/AIDS in the coming five years.

The Ministry of Health started a comprehensive care programme in 2000, by establishing 100 county-level pilot areas for wide-ranging HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention initiatives by the end of 2003. The programme has so far been introduced to 54 counties in 11 provinces with serious HIV/AIDS problems.

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