Chinese Government Forms National AIDS Prevention Committee
The Chinese government on Thursday established a new national AIDS prevention committee that will "beef up" the country's efforts to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, the People's Daily reports (People's Daily, 2/27). The committee will be headed by Vice Premier Wu Yi, who is also the country's health minister, according to the South China Morning Post (Jiangtao, South China Morning Post, 2/27). The committee, which will consist of senior officials from 23 departments of the central government and officials from seven provinces with high HIV/AIDS prevalence, will write rules and policies for HIV/AIDS prevention and coordinate "related major issues" in mobilizing the resources needed to combat the disease, the China Daily reports. Wu called on Chinese authorities to "earnestly carry out" four government policies already in place, including the provision of free antiretroviral treatment for individuals who cannot afford the drugs; free and anonymous HIV testing in areas with high HIV prevalence; free counseling services and antiretroviral treatment for HIV-positive pregnant women; and free schooling for AIDS orphans (Nei, China Daily, 2/27). Wu said that the government also plans to launch a widespread publicity campaign to educate the Chinese public about HIV/AIDS, according to Xinhua New Agency (Xinhua News Agency, 2/26). The government also will seek to improve the management of blood-collection agencies, according to the South China Morning Post. During the committee's first meeting on Thursday, Wu said that HIV/AIDS is spreading at an "alarming rate" in China and the disease's spread could "seriously hamper" the country's economic growth and social development, according to the Post. Official government figures show that there are 840,000 HIV-positive individuals in mainland China, but the actual HIV prevalence is likely "far higher," according to the Post (South China Morning Post, 2/27).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.