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Hu Urges End to Bias Against AIDS Patients

President Hu Jintao on Tuesday called on all citizens to show care and love for people with HIV/AIDS and to eliminate any forms of discrimination against them so that all AIDS victims can "feel the warmth of society."

The top Chinese leader made the remarks on the day before the 17th World AIDS Day at Home of Love, a nongovernmental organization dedicated to AIDS prevention and treatment at the Beijing You'an Hospital. The president shook hands and chatted with AIDS patients and saluted the medical workers and volunteers who work at the hospital.

Hu, who is also general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), urged governments and Party committees at all levels to be fully aware of the importance and urgency of AIDS prevention and treatment. He told them to put AIDS prevention and treatment high on their work agendas and mobilize all sectors of society to fight the disease.

"China has in recent years made encouraging progress in AIDS prevention and treatment. But the country is still facing a grave situation in this regard, and the CPC and the whole of society need to make further efforts," Hu said.

Hu said governments at all levels should disseminate AIDS prevention information among the people, advocate a civilized and healthy lifestyle and constantly improve citizens' awareness and practice of AIDS prevention.

"The government should provide medical treatment and assistance for HIV carriers and AIDS patients, safeguard their legitimate rights and interests and help them overcome difficulties in their lives," he said.

The president encouraged medical workers to, in the spirit of humanitarianism, assume the responsibility of treating AIDS patients, assiduously study treatment techniques and develop new ways to help AIDS patients to fight the disease.

Premier Wen Jiabao also recently called for unremitting efforts in the campaign in a message attached to a Ministry of Public Health report on the country's progress in HIV/AIDS prevention.

In his message, Premier Wen, also a member of the Politburo Standing Committee of the CPC, paid tribute to all HIV carriers and AIDS patients in the country and to medical workers dealing with the disease. He offered his sincere thanks to all the people who have supported HIV/AIDS prevention efforts.

Wen called for still greater efforts in increase public awareness of the issue and to curb the spread of the virus.

Earlier this year, the State Council set up an HIV/AIDS Prevention Committee that has been developing programs and campaigns to deal with the rapid spread of HIV infections.

World AIDS Day falls on December 1 each year. This year's theme is "Women, Girls, HIV and AIDS."

Females now make up almost half of the nearly 40 million people worldwide currently infected with the deadly virus and the number is growing at an alarming rate. The number of HIV-positive women in East Asia jumped 56% in the past year.

Around the world, AIDS has killed more than 20 million people since 1981, including 2.9 million last year.

Executive Vice Minister of Health Gao Qiang reported in November that China currently has 840,000 HIV carriers and 80,000 AIDS patients. He said the figures came from a joint epidemiological survey conducted by China, the World Health Organization and UNAIDS.

(Xinhua News Agency, China.org.cn December 1, 2004)

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