Chinese Health Officials, UNAIDS Pledge To Fight HIV-Associated Stigma, Discrimination; Reduce Spread of HIV Among Migrant Workers
Chinese health officials and UNAIDS on Sunday pledged to fight HIV-associated stigma and discrimination by displaying a large red ribbon, an international symbol of HIV/AIDS awareness, at the Olympic Bird's Nest stadium in Beijing, AP/Google.com reports.
Chinese Health Minister Chen Zhu at the ceremony said, "Stigma and discrimination are major obstacles in an effective response to AIDS," adding, "We need to engage all sectors of society in China to combat these issues and work together to stop the disease." Bernhard Schwartlander, UNAIDS country coordinator in China, added that people are reluctant to "come forward" for HIV testing because they are afraid of stigma. In addition, people at risk of HIV "won't talk to their partners and colleagues about HIV/AIDS -- putting themselves and others potentially at risk," Schwartlander said (AP/Google.com, 11/30).
Health officials in China also recently discussed efforts to reduce the spread of HIV among migrant workers and other groups. Although HIV in China has been most common among injection drug users, men who have sex with men, commercial sex workers and people who received tainted blood, the virus is "highly prevalent among specific groups such as migrant workers, and in regions -- particularly remote areas -- and the countryside," Wang Weizhen, deputy director of HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment at the Ministry of Health, said (Hornby, Reuters,11/30). HIV also has increased among MSM in recent years, according to a survey conducted by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Hornby, Reuters, 11/28).
According to Reuters, fear of stigma and an embarrassment about talking about sex are fueling the spread of the virus among migrant workers. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Sunday said increased efforts are needed to "strengthen prevention work in key areas and key populations." The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security and the International Labour Organization have produced a film, titled "Hometown Fellows," about HIV that aims to educate migrant workers about the disease, Reuters reports (Reuters, 11/30).