China’s Henan Province Government Sends Officials to Villages To Combat HIV/AIDS
China's central Henan province, which in the mid-1990s "became the site of one of China's worst AIDS outbreaks" because of unsafe blood collection practices that helped to spread HIV, is sending officials to live in the villages most-affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, according to state-run news agencies, Reuters reports (Reuters, 2/16). The government is sending 76 officials from the province's health and finance departments to villages throughout the province for one year, Agence France-Presse reports. The officials will supervise village authorities in providing free and anonymous HIV/AIDS testing, education for AIDS orphans, care for elderly residents whose children have died from AIDS-related complications and free antiretroviral therapy to HIV-positive residents. The announcement is a "major policy decision" by the provincial authorities and demonstrates they are giving "great importance to people's health and lives," according to the state-controlled media reports, Agence France-Presse reports (Agence France-Presse, 2/16). The Chinese government estimates that there are 840,000 HIV-positive people in the country and that 80,000 people have AIDS; however, some experts believe that those figures are an underestimate. The United Nations estimates that there are at least one million HIV-positive people in China and the number could grow to 20 million people by 2010 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/15).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.