BEIJING-- China provided free anti-retroviral therapy to 37,497 AIDS patients between September 2003 and September 2007, the Ministry of Health said here Tuesday.
Also, 771 HIV positive children received free treatment, the ministry said on its official website.
In September 2003, the government announced that it would provide free anti-retroviral treatment to AIDS patients in rural areas and low-income city dwellers.
The government also promised free HIV consulting and screening, free therapy to interrupt mother-to-infant transmission, free infant HIV testing and financial assistance to orphans whose parents died of AIDS.
"By September this year, the free therapy program had expanded to 1,154 counties across China," the ministry said.
It added that free HIV consulting and screening services had improved, with 4,293 disease control centers and public clinics providing services.
"About 80 percent of China's disease control centers above the county level are able to conduct HIV antibody testing," the ministry said.
China had 183,733 officially registered HIV/AIDS cases in 2006, but experts from the Ministry of Health and international organizations estimated there were more likely 650,000 people living with the disease in the country.
(Xinhua News Agency, November 28, 2007)