UNAIDS Executive Director Piot Praises China’s Efforts in Fighting HIV/AIDS, Calls for Continued EffortsUNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot on Tuesday praised China's efforts in the fight against HIV/AIDS but said that the country still faces "big challenges" in combating the disease, Reuters reports. According to Piot, the country has made progress in increasing access to antiretroviral drugs, and the government and society are increasingly willing to address China's HIV/AIDS situation. "I've been coming to China for 14 to 15 years, and I can say that the first five, six years there was basically no receptivity," Piot said, adding, "Now, today, a lot is going on. Systems are being put in place. I think it's really different." There also is "strong leadership" in China, Piot said, adding, "The education is there. There is money, drugs. I think key obstacles are the size of the country and that everyone needs to know" about the issue.
Piot also said that harassment of civil society advocates is a concern, according to Reuters. UNAIDS' Beijing office has been "directly engaged" in making efforts to ensure that HIV/AIDS advocates are not harassed or imprisoned, according to Piot. "You can't fight AIDS without the people who are in the first place concerned about it," he said. Piot added that China is not the only country with such issues.
Deputy Health Minister Wang Longde, who also serves as the country's HIV/AIDS chief, on Tuesday said that China this year plans to spend 960 million yuan, or about $127 million, on antiretroviral drugs, as well as increase HIV education efforts. The government also plans to reach out to men who have sex with men, Wang said (Blanchard, Reuters, 7/17).
Piot on Monday was in China's Henan province to inspect regional clinics and elementary schools. He also visited two families affected by the disease to assess their medical treatment and daily lives, Xinhua/People's Daily reports. In addition, Piot visited a government-funded charity, called the "Sunlight Home," which incorporates 20 orphanages that provide housing, living expenses, psychological consultations and vocational training to more than 1,000 AIDS orphans in Shanghai.
"During this tour, I have seen ... how the government supports those AIDS patients and cares about those AIDS-affected orphans," Piot said, adding, "I pay respect to all the efforts, which are consistent with the commitment the Chinese government has made in the sector" (Xinhua/People's Daily, 7/17). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.