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Deputy Urges More Action Against AIDS

The first AIDS-prevention proposal ever by a National People’s Congress deputy was put forward at the Fifth Session of the Ninth National People’s Congress in Beijing this March by a man who was moved by a newspaper article he read recently on an AIDS patient.

“I am not a medical worker,” said Chen Hong, a deputy to the Ninth National People’s Congress (NPC), who submitted a proposal urging the central government to give greater support for enacting the Law on Prevention of Occupational Diseases in west China.

“It’s my temporary proposal,” said Chen, “I was moved by an article on the fourth page of The Xinhua Daily Telegraph on March 1, titled ‘I’m an AIDS Patient in the Sun,’ so I made up my mind to put forward this proposal. I am rather ignorant about AIDS. However, as I am aware of the severe harm of AIDS as a disease that is called ‘the plague of the century,’ I think it only responsible to submit such a proposal.”

Last November, China’s First National AIDS Conference was held in Beijing where experts warned that the number of HIV-positive people could top 10 million by 2010 if their number soars by 30 percent.

“It’s not impossible at the going rate. The total number of HIV-positive people last year increased by 67.4 percent over the previous year,” said Chen, “The prevention of AIDS has a bearing on the future living environment and quality of life for Chinese people. However, we haven’t paid adequate attention to the issue.”

Beginning last year, the state allocated 100 million yuan (US$10.08 million) annually from central revenue as a special fund for the prevention of AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases (STD), and at the same time took 950 million yuan (US$114.7 million) out of treasury bonds to help build blood stations.

Deputy Chen said that although the central government has increased the amount of funds allocated to the prevention of AIDS from 15 million yuan (US$1.81 million) to more than 1 billion yuan (US$120.77 million), amount to each person in China gets less than one yuan (12 cents) on average for the prevention of AIDS virus. The funds for AIDS prevention don’t compare even with the funds for building a road, which may amount to thousands of million yuan or even tens of billion yuan.

“We should guarantee the input in preventing AIDS even if we may have fewer roads built,” said Chen, “In the long term, building fewer roads may adversely affect the national economic development, but the significance will be farther-reaching if the money is used in AIDS prevention. It will be too late if the HIV-infected population tops 10 million.”

According to Chen, once the prevention of AIDS arouses great concern of the state, a lot of problems surrounding this issue can be readily solved. He recalled that he put forward at the first session of the Ninth NPC in 1998 a proposal to “clarify the legal status of non-public economy.”

Because this proposal involved amending the Constitution, only some 20 deputies supported it. However, after the proposal was published in The Xinhua Daily Telegraph on March 6, 1998, some 219 deputies representing 14 provinces and regions approved and signed their names on his proposal before it was submitted to the NPC. The bill on amending the Constitution formed at the second session of the Ninth NPC, including the main contents of the proposal.

“I believe that the objective of preventing and controlling AIDS will be accomplished as long as the state attaches great importance to the work,” said Chen. Therefore, Chen asks in his proposal that the state set up a special fund within the health budget to ensure the smooth progress of AIDS prevention and accelerate medical research on AIDS.

(新华通讯社 [Xinhua News Agency] March 13, 2002 by Huang Guan, translated by Zhang Tingting for china.org.cn)

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