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New support given to AIDS patients
By Xiao Li (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-03-15 11:48

Central China's Hubei Province plans to provide free antiviral therapy to all HIV carriers and anti-retroviral treatment to poor AIDS patients, said Vice-governor Zhou Jianwei at an HIV/AIDS prevention and control conference last week.

Farmers who are carriers are exempt from agriculture tax and surcharges and, along with poor urban victims, would receive subsidies from local governments, said Zhou.

Statistics indicate that most of the HIV/AIDS sufferers in Hubei are living in straitened circumstances - a recent survey shows that the average income of virus carriers in nine counties and cities of Hubei is less than 640 yuan (US$77) a year.

Promising that the province would provide more help and assistance to all HIV/AIDS victims, Zhou said the government would treat the cost of antiviral treatment as basic medical expenditure in urban medical insurance.

In addition, pregnant women would be eligible for free HIV tests; and if they test positive, they will get free treatment. If they want, they can have an abortion free.

Orphans who suffer HIV/AIDS would be entitled to living subsidies and live in special orphanages. They can also get free medical treatment.

Experts point out that Hubei risks a rapid increase in the number of HIV/AIDS carriers.

More than 50 counties and cities in the province have reported HIV/AIDS cases - there were 1,301 at the end of last year, almost double the figure for 2002.

It is estimated that there are at least 45,000 sufferers in Hubei; and about half of them are set to have full-blown AIDS or reach the terminal stage.

The death number of AIDS patients last year accounted 55 per cent of the total number since the province reported the first case in the late 1980s.

The province has set up a working committee comprising 32 departments to address prevention and control of the disease, according to Zhu Zhonghua, head of the provincial health department.

The working committee will dispatch 10 task forces by the end of this month to be stationed in 21 counties and cities to provide year-round treatment and care.

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