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MSF Provides Free Care to AIDS, HIV Patients

The office of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF; Doctors Without Borders) French Section in Nanning, capital of south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, said on Monday they have provided free medical care to 260 AIDS patients and HIV carriers in China since late 2003.

On 1 December 2003, the MSF French Section signed a two-year agreement with the Guangxi health bureau and its center for disease control to launch an HIV/AIDS project for residents of Nanning and five adjacent counties. It set up a clinic to provide checkups, outpatient care and antiretroviral therapy (ART) for 10 to 20 new patients a month.

According to Max-Antoine Grolleron, the MSF French Section's representative in China, 160 patients have so far received ART at the clinic.

Last year, the clinic's outpatient care expenses totaled 6 million yuan (US$723,000) all of which were paid by MSF, according to Huang Xiaoying, an interpreter with the MSF French section.

MSF has also been working with local hospitals to push prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

So far, six HIV-positive women have given birth by cesarean section, the first of them three months ago. MSF's Dr. Stefano Manfredi said they cannot be sure whether the babies are free of infection until they are 18 months old, but they are monitoring the infants closely.

MSF is also creating patient support groups as part of the network of HIV-positive people in the region.

MSF is an international humanitarian aid organization that provides emergency medical assistance to populations in danger in more than 80 countries. The French section began working in China in 1996 with a medical service program in Guangxi's Rongshui County.

MSF also operates a free HIV/AIDS clinic in Xiangfan, Hubei Province. Most of its patients are rural subsistence farmers with no insurance or access to a local, fee-based health care system.

(Xinhua News Agency, China.org.cn April 19, 2005)

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