UNAIDS Executive Director Piot Urges China To Include HIV-Positive People, NGOs in Efforts To Combat Spread of HIV
Although China should be commended for some of its HIV prevention policies -- including providing antiretroviral drugs at no cost, clean needles to injection drug users and HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment information to migrant workers -- the government must involve HIV-positive people and nongovernmental organizations in the fight against HIV/AIDS, UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot said on Monday, AFP/Yahoo! News reports. During a six-day visit to China, Piot said he noticed there were no networks for HIV-positive people to support each other and campaign for HIV/AIDS treatment services. He said such groups help HIV-positive people receiving antiretrovirals to adhere to their treatment regimens. Although there are hundreds of HIV/AIDS NGOs in China, only a few of them are recognized by the government, and grassroots organizations do not receive government funding, according to AFP/Yahoo! News. "There should be better space for civil society groups to work. No country has been totally effective in dealing with AIDS without that space," Piot said, adding, "The government cannot do everything." Piot, whose trip aimed to increase understanding of local and grassroots efforts to fight HIV/AIDS, said the country also faces the challenge of implementing effective HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention programs nationwide and raising public awareness (Sui, AFP/Yahoo! News, 9/11). The country also needs to do more to reach out to sex workers, Piot said (Blanchard, Reuters, 9/11). Piot urged China to combat prejudice against HIV-positive people, reduce sexual violence and homophobia and increase women's social status. In addition, Piot said the government needs to increase HIV/AIDS funding and encourage more citizens, the media, government agencies and businesses to participate in efforts to tackle the spread of the disease (Xinhua/People's Daily, 9/9).
Low Awareness Undermines Efforts
In related news, Dai Zhicheng, president of the Chinese Association of Sexually Transmitted Disease and AIDS Prevention and Control, on Friday said insufficient publicity and monitoring of and testing for HIV/AIDS has led to low levels of awareness of the disease, which has undermined efforts to control its spread, Xinhua/People's Daily reports. "Some local officials believe that too much publicity of the disease will negatively impair investment and local economy, while others underestimate the disease and neglect control and prevention," Dai said. In a State Ministry of Health poll of 1,919 students from 24 universities in 19 cities, almost 24% of respondents did not know how HIV is transmitted, and 24.4% did not know how to prevent the disease. According to Dai, discrimination against HIV-positive people in the country persists (Xinhua/People's Daily , 9/9).