Gains Made in China’s AIDS Prevention Initiatives, Reproductive Health Services; Improvements Still Needed, Report Says
Although China has made "great efforts" to improve reproductive health services and HIV/AIDS prevention and education initiatives, sexual health services are still a "pressing issue" in some areas of the country, according to the China Population and Development Report released on Tuesday at the opening of the International Forum on Population and Development in Wuhan, China, Xinhua News Agency reports (Xinhua News Agency , 9/7). The three-day forum will address poverty alleviation; reproductive health; family planning; HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment; adolescent sexual health; reduction of infant and maternal mortality; the empowerment of women; and the role of nongovernmental organizations in promoting population and reproductive policies around the world. "We have witnessed the increase in human life expectancy, decline in maternal and infant mortality, a richer variety of options of lifestyles and more opportunities available to people all over the world," Hua Jianmin, secretary general of China's State Council, said at the opening ceremony. Thoraya Obaid, executive director of the United Nations Population Fund, and Steven Sinding, director general of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, also addressed the opening ceremony (Xinhua News Agency , 9/7).
According to the report, China has promoted the development of its Reproductive Health and Family Planning Program -- launched collaboratively with UNFPA -- that aims to improve women's and adolescent's reproductive health; promote gender equality; prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS; and reduce maternal and infant mortality. However, making reproductive health services available to women, especially in impoverished areas, has remained a "pressing issue," according to Xinhua News Agency. The report calls on China to "pay special attention" to the "poverty-stricken" western and central regions of the country and increase international exchanges of health care workers to "raise the overall level" of the national program, Xinhua News Agency reports (Xinhua News Agency , 9/7).
HIV/AIDS Programs, Spending
China "faces a severe situation" because 10 million people in the country could be HIV-positive by 2010 if effective HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention measures are not implemented, the report states, according to Xinhuanet. However, the government has "substantially" increased its funding for HIV/AIDS initiatives and also has "created an express path to expedite" the testing and approval of antiretroviral drugs, according to the report. In 2003, the government increased its budget for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment initiatives from $12.09 million to $47.16 million. In addition, all middle schools and universities will have implemented HIV/AIDS education programs by 2005, according to the report. However, the report states that awareness and understanding of the disease needs to be "significantly improved" and progress needs to be made in "removing the stigma attached to HIV/AIDS," Xinhuanet reports. The report also calls for the government to improve its research and development of antiretrovirals and increase the medical assistance available to people living with HIV/AIDS in the country (Xinhuanet, 9/7).
Although the government has incorporated reproductive health and HIV/AIDS education into school curricula throughout the country, Chinese adolescents are "facing more and more great potential danger," the report states, according to Xinhua News Agency. According to the report, approximately 7.4% of people living with HIV/AIDS are under age 19, while the ratio of pregnancies to single women and abortions in the country has increased. The increases might be a result of a lack of "consistent" information, an underdeveloped education system or policies and regulations on HIV/AIDS that are not "well implemented," according to the report, Xinhua News Agency reports. However, China has made "sustained efforts" to improve sexual health among adolescents through initiatives such as program for the development of Chinese women and children (Xinhua News Agency , 9/7). The report also says that China's Family Planning Association has grown into one of the largest NGOs in China, with 80 million members (Xinhua News Agency , 9/7).
Additional information on AIDS in China is available online from kaisernetwork.org's Issue Spotlight on AIDS.