China Vows To Keep Number of HIV-Positive Residents Under 1.5M
China must take action to keep its number of HIV-positive residents under 1.5 million over the next five years or face social and economic impacts of the epidemic, Chinese Health Minister Gao Qiang said on Wednesday at a news conference in advance of World AIDS Day on Thursday, the AP/FOXNews.com reports. Gao said that HIV/AIDS prevention efforts are central to the country's "economic development, social stability and prosperity," adding, "A good job in AIDS prevention and treatment is a must for the government at all levels" (Olesen, AP/FOXNews.com, 11/30). The Chinese government estimates that there are 840,000 HIV-positive people in the country, including 80,000 people living with AIDS; however, the United Nations estimates that there are at least one million HIV-positive people in China (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/9). The World Health Organization on Tuesday warned that as many as 10 million people in China might be HIV-positive by 2010 if nothing is done to prevent the spread of the virus, Reuters reports (Lim, Reuters, 11/30). Gao said, "We need to increase funding, enhance surveillance, increase the spread of information and education on the disease." The Chinese government has set aside $100 million for prevention, treatment, education and detection programs this year. That amount is eight times what the government spent to fight the disease in 2002 (AP/FOXNews.com, 11/30).
Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi on Monday during a national teleconference outlined five responsibilities the country must undertake in order to fight HIV/AIDS, Xinhuanet reports. Wu said that professionals above the county level should receive HIV/AIDS prevention training once every one to two years. In addition, the country should improve public awareness about the disease to reduce stigma and establish a surveillance network covering various populations to enhance HIV testing and data collection, Wu said, adding that scientists and advocates should ramp up research on the disease and more actively promote condom use. Finally, Wu said that more attention should be given to HIV-positive people and orphans. Wu heads a working committee that was established in February 2004 under the State Council, China's cabinet, to coordinate the country's HIV/AIDS prevention activities (Xinhuanet, 11/28). Also during the teleconference, Chinese Vice Health Minister Wang Longde urged the government to invest more resources in combating HIV/AIDS among migrants, whom he said are at high risk of contracting the disease, Xinhuanet reports. The 120 million migrants who move throughout China annually are vulnerable to the disease because of a lack of education about health issues, Wang said. He added that local governments typically provide HIV/AIDS services only to people with residential registrations, which excludes migrants (Xinhuanet, 11/28).
NGO, Artist Involvement in Raising Awareness
UNAIDS China Coordinator Joel Rehnstrom on Monday at a press conference urged China's nongovernmental and community-based organizations to take a larger role in the fight against HIV/AIDS, Xinhuanet reports. Rehnstrom said that NGOs are crucial in the fight against HIV/AIDS because of the expertise they have accumulated in the field. The press conference was sponsored by the Positive Art Workshop, an NGO founded in 2003 by the Ford Foundation and supported by the Beijing You'an Hospital, and the Hard Rock Cafe in Beijing. Song Pengfei, the first HIV-positive Chinese to disclose his status publicly, at the press conference urged pop singers and other artists to expand their involvement in raising awareness of the disease. Several singers from China and Taiwan were invited to the conference (Xinhuanet, 11/28).