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10 Mln HIV Carriers in 2010 If No Strong Measures Taken

A leading Chinese medical expert has warned that China may have 10 million HIV carriers in 2010 if the government does not take strong measures to ward off the severe threats to human health posed by AIDS.


Dai Zhicheng, director of the AIDS Expert Committee with China's Ministry of Health, made the remarks at an international forum on sexual disease and prevention held during the weekend in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality.


"However, if China takes active and effective measures, provides sufficient medical funding, and sets up a scientific mechanism for AIDS prevention, then the country will be able to limit its number of HIV carriers to 1.5 million in 2010," said Dai, also president of the Chinese Association of Venereal Disease and AIDS Prevention.


By end June 2005, China had officially reported 126,808 HIV carriers, including 28,789 with full-blown AIDS, according to statistics released by China's Ministry of Health.


But the actual number may go far beyond the official report, medical experts said. They estimated that there were approximately 840,000 HIV carriers in the country, including 80,000 with AIDS, mainly in rural areas.


China's first case of AIDS came to light in 1985.


Dai believes China is capable of controlling the spread of AIDS, citing strong support from central government.


"State leaders have paid visits to AIDS patients to show care for them as well as support for AIDS prevention. And the central government and local governments across China have spent billions of yuan on AIDS prevention," he said.


The state leaders Dai mentioned include Chinese President Hu Jintao, who visited AIDS patients in Beijing's You'an Hospital on Nov. 30, 2004, shook hands with them and encouraged them to fight the disease, Premier Wen Jiabao, who visited Beijing's Ditan Hospital on Dec. 1, 2003, World AIDS Day, and shook hands and talked with AIDS patients there, and Vice Premier Wu Yi, who visited an AIDS-ravaged county in central China's Henan Province in mid-December 2003.


A working committee was established under the State Council - China's cabinet - on Feb. 26, 2004 to coordinate AIDS prevention and control work across the country. Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi was appointed head of the committee.


To assist AIDS patients, the Chinese government has offered them various free services, such as free counseling, free testing, free anti-virus medicine, and free education for orphans of AIDS patients.


The government has also undertaken to provide livelihood support for poor AIDS patients.


In recent years, China has made great efforts to promote the use of condoms to prevent the spread of the disease.


To raise awareness of AIDS prevention, China has made AIDS education a compulsory course at schools and universities.


In the eyes of Dai, "this (support from the government) is a key factor in helping China effectively check the rapid spread of AIDS."


(Xinhua News Agency October 26, 2005)

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