The Ministry of Public Health has urged public health departments above county level to set up their own AIDS expert panels to prevent and control the spread of the disease and provide better services for AIDS victims.
According to an instruction formulated recently by the ministry in cooperation with the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the panels should comprise experts in public health, prevention and control of infectious diseases and lab testing, as well as in clinical medicine, including TCM practitioners.
Health authorities with city governments and districts under their jurisdiction should designate a hospital or a department within a general hospital (including TCM hospitals where conditions permit) to provide services for acutely ill AIDS patients, according to the instruction.
Hospitals providing services for AIDS victims are also urged to offer HIV-positive pregnant women health consultation, prenatal advice and delivery services to prevent mother-child transmission of the virus, and conduct regular interviews with the patients.
China’s AIDS prevention and control work is at a crucial stage because the epidemic may spread from high-risk groups to the general population, said Vice-Premier Wu Yi at a national work conference on AIDS prevention held on Tuesday and Wednesday.
China’s fight against AIDS/HIV has lasted 19 years, since the first HIV case was reported in 1985. The Ministry of Health assessment report on China’s AIDS prevention and control indicates that HIV is an epidemic affecting all the mainland’s 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities. There are 840,000 HIV carriers in China, of whom 80,000 suffer AIDS.
Experts warn that over 10 million Chinese will be HIV-positive by 2010 unless effective countermeasures are taken.
To this end, the Chinese government has increased funding for AIDS-related programs, established AIDS control centers, passed AIDS-related laws and provided free treatment for the indigent. China is also cooperating internationally to fight the disease.
Fifty-one county-level regions have been set up to serve as pilot zones for AIDS prevention and treatment in 11 provinces. In these zones, efforts are being made to offer free anti-retroviral drugs, reduce high risk-behavior, prevent maternal transmission, and provide assistance and care to AIDS patients as well as voluntary counseling and testing.
(Xinhua News Agency April 20, 2004)