More than 100 university students wearing red ribbons -- the international symbol of HIV/AIDS awareness -- will head into rural China to disseminate knowledge on HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment.
Having received intensive training, the 13 teams, each comprising 10 students selected from universities nationwide, will also care for those suffering with the killer virus. The 130 students will travel to town fairs, ports and stations of 10 provinces and autonomous regions to spread their knowledge, while training classes will be organized for local trade unions, schools and enterprises.
An official with the Ministry of Health believed the event will help improve HIV/AIDS prevention in China. "In vast rural areas, many farmers are still ignorant about AIDS, and improving their awareness is a critical task for us," said Xiao Donglou, who is in charge of disease control with the ministry, at the launch of the event yesterday in Beijing.
"We want to arm the local officials with the appropriate knowledge, and, after we leave, they can continue our efforts." Xiao said public awareness about respecting and understanding HIV/AIDS patients needs to be improved. "Meanwhile, we must stress the importance of educating the public about showing compassion for HIV/AIDS patients and their families," noted Xiao.
Xiao said the government is going to provide "comprehensive care" to thousands of HIV/AIDS victims, and to curb the spread of the virus.
Experts estimate the number of HIV cases in China has reached 850,000, while the number of AIDS patients has topped 200,000. The central government's goal is to contain HIV infections to 1.5 million people by 2010. But experts warn, if the number of cases increases at the current rate, it will reach 10 million by 2010.
Xiao said the government is preparing a national comprehensive care strategy to create a better living environment for HIV/AIDS patients.
(China Daily July 16, 2002)