China's top legislative body needs to devise a law to curb the spread of AIDS, which is taking a firmer grip on the nation.
"Such legislation is vital for the country's fight against the deadly disease, especially when the high-incidence area is shifting from Africa to Asia," said Zhu Mingde, a Shanghai deputy to the Ninth National People's Congress (NPC).
Zhu, along with 32 other deputies, submitted a proposal calling for the drafting of an AIDS prevention law to the ongoing fourth session of the Ninth NPC, the nation’s top legislative body.
"It is a thorny issue worldwide and Chinese legislators should help solve the problem using the law," said Zhu, who is also director of Renji Hospital affiliated to Shanghai Second Medical University.
The killer disease is sweeping the world at an unpredictable speed. Some 36.1 million people were estimated to have HIV/AIDS worldwide by the end of last year, according to World Health Organization figures.
HIV/AIDS claimed 3 million lives last year and has caused the deaths of 21 million since the first outbreak two decades ago, according to a report from UNAIDS, the United Nations agency that spearheads the global battle against AIDS.
"There is no reason for China to relax its efforts in fighting the scourge," Zhu said.
Based on the World Health Organization report, China was ranked fourth in Asia and 17th internationally when looking at the number of HIV carriers.
Since the first AIDS case in China was reported 16 years ago, the disease has been raging across the country.
Chinese medical experts have estimated that about 600,000 people in the country had been infected with the fatal illness by the end of last year, an increase of 30 percent annually over the last few years, according to figures from the Ministry of Health.
Its statistics indicate that 83 percent of HIV/AIDS carriers are men between the ages of 20 and 39.
The nation is feeling the sting of an illness which is becoming an increasingly serious public health hazard and a social problem.
It is a very complicated problem because it is often intertwined with other issues, such as the prevention of venereal disease, drug taking, prostitution and contamination of blood, Zhu said.
"That's why we need a law to combine and coordinate the efforts of different departments, including health, public security, education and cultural management organs," he added.
The proposed law should establish preventive measures as its top priority, Zhu said.
"Before a cure can be found, education and prevention should top the agenda in our efforts to fight the epidemic and legislation is the best way to institutionalize these efforts," he said.
Zhu suggested that the proposed law should include the releasing of information, epidemic control and supervision and coordination of the dissemination of AIDS-prevention knowledge.
(China Daily 03/15/2001)