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Training to Help in HIV/AIDS Battle
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A national HIV/AIDS awareness campaign got underway yesterday in Beijing.

The new campaign aims to educate local officials about the government's policies for controlling the deadly virus.

"In China HIV/AIDS control is a State activity and many measures, from public education to medical treatment, are looked after by governments at different levels," Deputy Health Minister said Wang Longde.

He said because of the high level of government involvement in the fight against the disease it was vital local officials were aware of their duties.

Wang's remarks came at the campaign launch in the School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.

Nearly 100,000 officials from 2,600 regions attended the first two-hour training class on HIV/AIDS control presented by Wang through a video and television system.

About nine training groups have been established and will be sent to different regions to teach officials about the government's policies and urge them to do better in their daily work, said Hao Yang, deputy director of the Department of Disease Control of the Ministry of Health.

The groups will be made up of HIV/AIDS experts and officials from various departments in the State Council such as the ministries of public security, education and finance, added Hao. By the end of 2007 it was expected that 90 percent of officials will have received training from the groups.

In many parts of China officials still thought the virus had not yet reached them or was not a serious threat and that was a dangerous sign, warned Wang.

Although the disease is only serious in some areas such as Henan and Yunnan provinces the virus has begun to spread from high-risk groups to ordinary citizens throughout the country, said Wang.

Officials were required by State regulations to learn about the disease, improve control measures and if their work wasn't good enough they could be punished, added Wang.

In early 2003 the government started a comprehensive care project to cope with the spread of HIV/AIDS. It includes free testing, free anti-virus drugs for sufferers and free education for the children of families hit by the virus.

Local governments have been asked to collaborate with the central government to improve efforts in identifying people infected with HIV/AIDS and providing them with better care.

By the end of December 2005 the nation's number of registered HIV/AIDS cases had reached 144,089. The virus has resulted in 8404 deaths.

Wang said the estimated number of HIV/AIDS cases in China was now 650,000.

(China Daily June 29, 2006)

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