Washington Post Examines China’s Increasingly ‘Open Attack’ on HIV/AIDS
The Washington Post on Wednesday examined China's increasingly "open attack" on HIV/AIDS and the government's recent departure from its "earlier reluctance to face the danger presented by the disease to the country's 1.3 billion people." China's government has begun to "pus[h] AIDS prevention out of the closet" with recent television and print media campaigns, public education initiatives and the distribution of condoms in conjunction with programs encouraging their use -- especially among commercial sex workers. But while the country's "effort to go public and intensify prevention is timely" -- the number of HIV-positive people in China has increased by 75% each year over the past four years -- "openly combating AIDS has not come easily" to the ruling Communist Party, according to the Post. Discussions concerning commercial sex work and condoms are "out of place in much of the country's traditional rural society," the Post reports. A survey released by the Ministry of Health last month indicated that "only a fraction" of the country's population understands how HIV is transmitted and less than half of the population know that condoms can reduce the risk of infection, according to the Post. The survey also showed that 59% of participants said they would not work with an HIV-positive colleague because of fear of transmission. However, according to Zhou Daoyun, a public health physician who runs a program established by China's health ministry and Britain's Department for International Development, the "key to overcoming such hesitation" is to involve local authorities, such as police and disease prevention officials, in HIV/AIDS initiatives, the Post reports. "In the past, we never promoted the use of condoms, and the government didn't pay much attention to the problem," Zhou said, adding, "Now it's totally different" (Cody, Washington Post, 12/8).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.