UNICEF Director Calls on China To Expand HIV/AIDS Prevention, Treatment Efforts
China needs to expand its response to the country's burgeoning HIV/AIDS epidemic and focus more on HIV prevention and treatment efforts, UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy said in a speech in Beijing on Thursday, Reuters reports. Bellamy said, "I think China has at least broken through the silence barrier," adding that the country now must "take AIDS on as a China-wide challenge" (Reuters, 2/24). China has had a "breakthrough" in realizing that HIV/AIDS is a "real problem" in the country, Bellamy said, adding, "But it needs to be seen as not just in limited populations" (AP/Yahoo! News, 2/24). She also said that "prevention, services, information and treatment are all remaining challenges for China." Bellamy also urged the government to step up efforts to ensure a clean blood supply and to prevent cross-border transmission of HIV (Reuters, 2/24). Bellamy also addressed childhood diseases in China, saying that while polio and hepatitis B have been brought under control, infant mortality rates and HIV/AIDS remain critical issues in the country (AP/Yahoo! News, 2/24). "I sincerely believe that most people do not really comprehend just how many young lives have been transformed for the worse by HIV/AIDS and how many millions more are under threat," she said, adding, "HIV/AIDS has redefined childhood illness" (Reuters, 2/24).
Clinton Praises China's Anti-AIDS Efforts
Former President Clinton on Wednesday in Beijing said he is "impressed" with China's response to HIV/AIDS and signed an agreement to provide antiretroviral drugs to 200 children in the country for one year, a program that is part of a three-year, $10 million deal signed last year by China's Ministry of Health and the Clinton Foundation, the AP/Yahoo! News reports (Olesen, AP/Yahoo! News, 2/23). Chinese officials and foundation representatives in April 2004 signed a memorandum of understanding to improve HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment in the country. The foundation will provide technical assistance in HIV/AIDS care and treatment, establishing treatment and testing protocols, and creating monitoring and evaluating programs (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/30/04). In addition to the approximately $70,000 to be spent on antiretroviral medication, Clinton also announced the creation of a fellowship for urban doctors trained in treating HIV/AIDS to travel to rural areas to provide treatment for HIV-positive patients and train doctors, Reuters reports. Clinton said that several hundred physicians will receive training through the program over the next two years, according to Reuters. "China has made impressive progress in building a comprehensive system of care for all Chinese patients in need," Clinton said at a reception (Reuters, 2/23). "I hope China's actions will encourage other countries to do as much," he said (AP/Yahoo! News, 2/23). Clinton was in Beijing to promote HIV/AIDS awareness as part of a "low-key" visit to the region, during which he also plans to discuss international aid to countries affected by the December 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, AFP/Turkish Press reports (AFP/Turkish Press, 2/23).