A senior government official said China currently has 840,000 HIV carriers and 80,000 AIDS patients.
Gao Qiang, China's executive deputy minister of health, made the remark at an international economic forum Thursday, saying that the statistics were from a joint epidemiological survey conducted by China, the World Health Organization and UNAIDS.
He said many AIDS organizations at home and abroad are using "accumulative data", not differentiating clearly HIV carriers, AIDS patients and deducting dead AIDS sufferers from the total number.
That's why the official figure is lower than many estimates, Gao explained.
He also said China is planning to offer free treatment to HIV carriers and AIDS patients in the country's rural areas and urban AIDS-infected population who are in financial difficulties.
About 5,000 HIV carriers and AIDS patients in poverty would receive free treatment this year and the free treatment would be available for all poor HIV carriers and AIDS patients next year, the executive deputy minister announced.
Gao said that HIV/AIDS is a common enemy of mankind and the Chinese government has attached great importance to prevention and treatment and treated it as a strategic issue for social stability, economic development, national prosperity and security.
HIV/AIDS in China has not been controlled and prevention and treatment in China is still faced with arduous tasks, Gao said.
Chinese central and local governments have allocated 6.8 billion yuan (US$850 million) to establish and improve the disease prevention and control mechanism in the provinces. Each year more than 200 million yuan (US$24 million) is spent as a special fund for HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment.
Central and local governments would also invest 2.25 billion yuan (US$272 million) mainly to strengthen the blood testing stations in the middle and western regions, Gao said.
He said China would protect the legitimate rights of HIV/AIDS patients and oppose social discrimination.
In all 124 counties where comprehensive prevention and treatment demonstration zones were established, integrated measures including antiviral treatment, care and life assistance will be adopted, Gao added.
(Xinhua News Agency November 7, 2003)