The Australian government has provided 2.56 million yuan (US$320,000) to help curb the spread of AIDS and treat HIV carriers in Yining, a city in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
Scheduled to be completed next May, the first phase of the project will see three anti-drug clubs established in urban Yining. Former drug users will be encouraged to work as volunteers to help other drug users who have not received treatment to stop dangerous sexual contact and drug taking. The clubs will also provide AIDS/HIV testing, psychological consultations for drug users and train them in daily life skills.
The second phase of the project will see 57 free needle exchange stations set up in 14 townships and neighborhood communities of Yining City, according to Yining city government.
Yining has reported more than 3,700 HIV carriers since the first case in 1996. Sharing needles between drug users is blamed as the prime cause for the spread of the HIV virus.
Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region has reported 11,990 HIV carriers including 344 AIDS patients, of whom 85 have died.
Across China, there are an estimated 650,000 reported HIV carriers, including some 75,000 AIDS patients, according to recent official estimates. The country aims to keep the number of HIV carriers below 1.5 million by 2010.
(Xinhua News Agency June 14, 2006)