United States Announces Five-Year, $15M Grant to Chinese AIDS Program for HIV/AIDS TreatmentCDC on Tuesday launched a five-year, $15 million campaign to fight HIV/AIDS in 10 provinces in China, Agence France-Presse reports. The initiative is part of CDC's Global AIDS Program, which is currently funding programs in 24 other countries. Under the new China program, the U.S. CDC office in China and China's Center for Disease Control and Prevention will work together on HIV prevention, treatment and support programs. The grants will be used for programs in 10 provinces: Anhui, Guizhou, Xinjiang, Heilongjiang, Inner Mongolia, Tibet, Guangdong, Shanghai, Beijing and Henan (Agence France-Presse, 3/2). 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, 2/18). "Even though China's overall numbers [are] less than that of the United States ... based on our estimate, only 10% of the patients in China know they are infected," Ray Yip, director for the U.S. CDC in China, said on Tuesday at the launch ceremony. He added that a the new program will attempt to identify HIV-positive people, according to Agence France-Presse. The program also will address AIDS-related stigma and the lack of access to antiretroviral drugs, which have hampered testing and treatment efforts, according to a CDC statement, Agence France-Presse reports.
Although China's top officials have shown greater attention to the disease, more commitment is needed, CDC said (Agence France-Presse, 3/2). "China can still prevent HIV/AIDS from reaching catastrophic proportions," U.S. Ambassador to China Clark Randt said, adding, "However, an HIV/AIDS catastrophe can only be avoided if China responds now, urgently and forcefully, with sufficient resources to stem this deadly tide" (Ang, Associated Press, 3/2). The Chinese government has faced "widespread criticism" for its approach to the epidemic and has been accused of neglecting to properly treat patients and of arresting AIDS advocates and journalists. Many advocates and experts have said that the Global AIDS Program will be unable to ensure that the $15 million in aid to China will be properly spent. However, Qi Xiaoqiu, director general of the Chinese Health Ministry's Department of Disease Control, said that the severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak last year taught the ministry the "importance of openness and transparency," according to Reuters (Liu, Reuters, 3/2).