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HIV Carriers Estimated at 35,000 in Henan

Central China's Henan Province has recently taken a series of measures to contain the spread of AIDS/HIV. Many local people became AIDS victims through unsanitary blood selling.

Experts estimate that there are about 35,000 HIV carriers in the province. Since the first HIV carrier was found in Henan in March 1995, a total of 6,524 cases had been officially reported and 1,940 of whom now show AIDS symptoms.

The HIV victims in Henan are densely located in several areas which had seen unsanitary blood selling.

With years of efforts, Henan has effectively stopped transmission through blood and through pregnant women to their unborn babies. However, intravenous drug use and prostitution are still dangerous factors for the spread of HIV. In addition, lack of HIV knowledge makes people especially vulnerable to the virus.

As one of the regions with a large rural population in China, Henan is economically backward. The provincial government has promised free treatment to farmer AIDS patients and those with financial problems. More efforts will also be made against illegal activities including drug trafficking and use, prostitution and blood selling.

The provincial government has called for better protection of HIV victims' legitimate rights and opposes social discrimination. A service network will be set up in Henan to provide medical help and care to HIV victims, said sources with the Henan provincial government.

Chinese central and local governments will invest 2.25 billion yuan (US$272 million) mainly to strengthen the blood testing stations in the central and western regions, Chinese executive deputy health minister Gao Qiang said recently.

(Xinhua News Agency November 16, 2003)

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