HIV/AIDS patients in South China's Guangdong Province will soon receive free medical checks and treatment amid cries for extra measures to prevent the situation from deteriorating.
About 170 HIV/AIDS sufferers of a poor socio-economic status will be the first to receive the free treatment, officials announced.
The first batch of complimentary anti-viral medication arrived at Guangzhou No 8 People's Hospital early last week, said Cai Weiping, director of the infectious disease department at the hospital.
"The drugs are being delivered to the people who need them," said Cai.
According to Lin Peng, director of the HIV/AIDS Division with the Guangdong Provincial Centre for Disease Control (CDC), all the anti-virus drugs will be collected at the CDC, before being shipped to the designated hospitals.
These hospitals, according to the city's healthcare authority, are Nanfang Hospital, No 3 Hospital affiliated to Sun Yat-sen Medical University, and No 8 People's Hospital.
Overseas Chinese Hospital has been appointed to receive HIV carriers and AIDS patients by the Guangdong provincial healthcare authority.
Outside the capital Guangzhou, each city is to designate one hospital to be responsible for the free diagnosis and clinical treatment of patients.
Poor patients, especially farmers and township citizens who have no medical insurance, are to receive clinical tests and anti-viral medication free of charge.
For pregnant women, medicine to block the virus infecting their babies will also be complimentary.
To support HIV/AIDS orphans, a financial aid plan is being discussed by the health, education and civil affairs authorities.
Testing reagent for the baby's health is also included.
In fact, anyone who wants to be tested for HIV/AIDS will have an opportunity to be given the exam gratis.
If given the all-clear after two tests, an optional third test will have to be paid for.
Testees' personal information will be treated confidentially.
According to statistics from the Guangdong Provincial Health Bureau, there are over 3,000 HIV carriers in the province, ranking fourth in China.
Among them, about 150 are AIDS patients.
(China Daily October 20, 2004)