China aims to bring AIDS spread under control by 2020

Last Updated: Wednesday, February 16, 2011 - 00:00

Beijing: China hopes to more or less bring the spread of AIDS under control by 2020, but faces an uphill task do to so due in part to ignorance and poor policy coordination, the government said on Wednesday.

China has 560,000 to 920,000 people infected with the HIV virus and 97,000 to 112,000 AIDS patients, according to 2009 Ministry of Health and United Nations estimates, and AIDS is now primarily spread sexually in the country.

"AIDS prevention work is a complex and long-term task," the central government said in a statement on its website (www.gov.cn).

"Though there are no vaccines or drugs to treat AIDS, experience at home and abroad proves it can be prevented and controlled," it added.

China will "take further measures, step up work, and fight to ensure that by 2015 the rapid rise in cases in key areas and among key groups is basically controlled, so that by 2020 the virus is bought under fairly good control nationally."

However, areas of concern remained for prevention work.

"Some localities don`t know much about AIDS prevention work and policies are not put into effect properly," the statement added.

The government would step up information campaigns and make condoms for widely available in public areas, though not ease up on efforts to crack down on prostitution, it said.

More work would also be put into identifying those infected with the virus.

"Monitoring and testing are effective methods to discover AIDS sufferers and to control the virus," it added.

HIV/AIDS became a major problem for China in the 1990s when hundreds of thousands of impoverished farmers became infected through botched blood-selling schemes.

After initially being slow to acknowledge the threat, China has stepped up the fight against HIV/AIDS in recent years, and senior leaders have appeared in the media meeting AIDS patients in an effort to tackle widespread stigma and discrimination.

But Beijing has a difficult relationship with some grassroots AIDS groups and activists, who have complained of official harassment.

Leading Chinese AIDS campaigner Hu Jia was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison by a Chinese court in April 2008, for "inciting subversion of state power."

Bureau Report



First Published: Wednesday, February 16, 2011 - 00:00

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