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Family Planners Attend HIV/AIDS Training

Over 140 family planning officials from seven provinces attended a two-day training seminar in Zhengzhou City, capital of the central province of Henan, aiming to learn ways to use their population work experience and grassroots network to help fight the spread of HIV/AIDS.

"I used to think AIDS was not our domain, but the training has changed my mind. I think we should fight against it and moreover take the initiative," said Yang Fujian from Hubei provincial population and family planning commission, also in central China.

The Initiative and Training Workshop for Population and Family Planning Sectors in Global Fund HIV/AIDS Program Areas ran from Monday to Tuesday, and family planning officials from 58 counties and districts received training on basic awareness, prevention and control measures, condom use programs and how to care for and support people living with HIV/AIDS.

Officials and medical experts from the National Population and Family Planning Commission (NPFPC), Global Fund HIV/AIDS China program office, WHO and Center for Disease Prevention and Control shared their knowledge in the workshops.

Ma Yugen, HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment expert and one of the trainers, said China has a nationwide grassroots network of population and family planning workers ideally placed to help HIV/AIDS education, monitoring, consulting and assisting those with HIV.

He said the participation of the NPFPC would help the general public protect themselves and remove stigma by increasing awareness.

"The biggest change the training has made on me is in understanding that HIV-positive people not only need material support, but more care and understanding from the public," said Yang.

NPFPC deputy director Zhao Baige said combining genitourinary health, family planning services and AIDS prevention and control is international practice, but efforts made so far are only a beginning and family planning commissions need to fully utilize the network they have.

(Xinhua News Agency August 17, 2005)

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