Chinese Government, Merck Sponsor Program Recruiting HIV/AIDS Specialists to Rural Southwest China Region
The Chinese government and the pharmaceutical company Merck Sharp & Dohme are sponsoring a program to recruit domestic and foreign health care workers who are HIV/AIDS specialists to work for at least four months in Liangshan Prefecture, a rural region in Southwest China's Sichuan province, the China Daily reports. The specialists -- who will have their expenses covered by the program -- will be responsible for training local health workers, launching and enhancing HIV/AIDS treatment programs and evaluating overall strategies to fight the disease. According to China's Ministry of Health, the specialists should have at least five years of experience working at inpatient or infectious disease departments at hospitals, universities or other medical institutions and should be able to speak English and Chinese. "We urgently feel the need for professionals to help our work here," Xie Nianzhi -- deputy director of the Infectious Disease Prevention Centre in Xichang, Liangshan's capital -- said, adding, "Because many villages are hard to access owing to their remoteness and backward transport facilities, our education program has difficulty reaching out to local residents. ... It's not uncommon to see drug users in these villages, and the disease is spreading quickly." Experts said that the majority of China's small number of HIV/AIDS specialists are working at big hospitals and disease control centers in large cities (Zhenghua/Feng, China Daily, 8/31). The Chinese government estimates that there are 840,000 HIV-positive people in the country and that 80,000 of those people have AIDS. However, international experts and advocates say that the actual number of HIV-positive people in China probably is between one million and 1.5 million. UNAIDS has said that the number of HIV-positive people living in China could increase to 10 million by 2010 unless steps are taken to address the epidemic (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/30).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.