No Longer ‘Blinded,’ China Must Act Now on AIDS, New York Times Editorial Says
Although for years Chinese officials called AIDS a "product of capitalist decadence and pretended that the virus was not a threat in China," the government has been "shamed by worldwide reports" on the blood trade in Henan province that helped spread the virus and "seems to be more willing to face its AIDS problem," a New York Times editorial states. The government acknowledged last month that China is facing an AIDS epidemic, "[b]ut it is still fudging the numbers," the editorial states, noting that the government said only 600,000 Chinese are infected, compared to a U.N. estimate of one million. The epidemic is "largely limited" to drug users, sex workers and those that received "tainted blood," but it could "spread widely in the general population" because of the nation's large population of itinerant workers and "growing" sexual freedom. Most Chinese are also unaware that the disease is spread through sexual contact and "will be resistant to the idea of practicing safe sex," the editorial states. The Chinese government "needs to move quickly to regulate the blood supply and provide clean needles to injecting drug users." The government should also make condoms more "widely available" and develop AIDS education campaigns for prostitutes, migrant workers and the "public at large," the editorial continues. These measures will "take years" to be effective, and "[m]illions of people will die because China's pride, corruption and constraints on free speech blinded it to the AIDS threat when the virus first appeared," the editorial concludes (New York Times, 9/5).
China Must Promote Broad Anti-AIDS Effort
An editorial in the Sept. 8 issue of the Lancet states that China's recent acknowledgement of its HIV/AIDS problem is a "welcome sig[n]," but the country must now adopt broader anti-AIDS strategies that target "all sectors of society." The editorial says that China's anti-AIDS programs must reach all citizens, including people "who are currently ostracized and shunned," such as prostitutes or men who have sex with men. To help it coordinate effective anti-AIDS programs, the editorial suggests, the Chinese government should solicit "guidance" from the international community, "which now has 20 years of experience combatting this epidemic and has developed practical interventions that have proven to be cost-effective in a wide variety of cultures and surely can be adapted for China." Such interventions include large education campaigns, safe sex and condom promotion programs, efforts to educate "marginalized high-risk groups" about the virus and projects to ensure the sterility and safety of medical equipment, the editorial states (Lancet, 9/8).