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AIDS prevention committee in the making
(China Daily)
Updated: 2004-02-19 23:17

China is considering a new State-level AIDS prevention working committee, in an effort to check the spread of the disease.

A plan for the committee has been submitted to the State Council and waits for final approval, according to sources reached by China Daily yesterday.

The new committee will be responsible for drafting policies and regulations for AIDS prevention, co-ordinating in related major issues and mobilizing public resources used in AIDS prevention across the country.

When established, according to a report by the Hong Kong-based Ta Kung Pao, the new committee will upgrade an existing mechanism of co-ordinating conferences and information among ministries and central government departments.

The committee will likely be headed by Vice-Premier and Minister of Health Wu Yi. Executive Deputy Minister of Health Gao Qiang and Vice Secretary-General of the State Council Xu Shaoshi will be vice-directors, said the report.

The latest figures from the Ministry of Health show there are 840,000 HIV carriers in China, of whom 80,000 suffer from AIDS.

As the number of HIV carriers has rapidly increased, the virus has spread from high-risk groups like drug abusers into the wider population.

Experts warn that more than 10 million Chinese will be HIV-positive by 2010, unless effective counter-measures are taken.

Executive Deputy Minister Gao Qiang said last year HIV/AIDS in China has not been controlled and prevention and treatment in China still face tough hurdles.

While the committee looks to co-ordinate and share information, the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine is pushing for the implementation of a plan which will provide free medical treatment for 3,000 impoverished HIV/AIDS patients.

With 9 million yuan (US$1.1 million) already secured, the administration is lobbying for a further 20 million yuan (US$2.4 million) from State coffers to carry out the plan.

With that money, traditional Chinese medicine clinics focusing on HIV/AIDS treatment will be set up by the end of next year in Henan, Hubei, Hebei provinces in Central China, Anhui Province in East China and Guangdong Province in South China.

The administration has already started to draw up remedies, train doctors and arrange for the construction of these bases.

The potential of traditional Chinese medicine in the treatment of HIV/AIDS has been tapped with unprecedented ardor in recent years. Cheaper than Western medicine, it has won a reputation as an effective enhancer of the patients's immune system, easing symptoms and bringing the development of the disease under control.

Chinese researchers and doctors hope to produce two or three new types of traditional Chinese medicine to treat HIV/AIDS in three years and work out relatively mature remedies.

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