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Gao Qiang: War on AIDS a Top Priority

China has always attached great importance to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, and is willing to contribute to the global fight against the deadly affliction, a senior Chinese health official said on Monday.

Addressing the HIV/AIDS high-level meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, Executive Vice-Minister of Health Gao Qiang said the Chinese Government appreciates the relentless efforts and outstanding contributions made by the United Nations in promoting global actions against HIV/AIDS.

Gao said the Chinese Government has treated the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS, a serious threat to public health and safety, as a strategic issue for social stability, economic growth and national prosperity and security, and has given top priority to this endeavor.

Gao noted that top Chinese leaders, including President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, have shown great concern over HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment.

Drawing on the experience and lessons learned in the past decade, the Chinese public health authorities have established the principle of focusing on prevention, integrating prevention with treatment and adopting comprehensive measures to deal with HIV/ AIDS, he said.

The Chinese Government has also drawn up a medium and long-term strategic plans to prevent and control HIV/AIDS, while taking actions to crack down on such criminal activities as illegal blood collecting, smuggling, drug trafficking and prostitution, said Gao.

Meanwhile, the central and local governments have allocated 6.8 billion yuan (US$822.2 million) to establish and improve disease prevention and control mechanisms in various provinces, and invested 2.25 billion yuan (US$272 million) to improve and upgrade the blood stations in China's central and western regions.

Gao said China is now developing a nationwide HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment mechanism featuring "government leadership, multi-sector co-operation and public participation."

However, the minister noted that HIV/AIDS has not been brought under effective control in China. Citing the initial analysis of a joint HIV/AIDS epidemiological survey conducted in co-operation with the World Health Organization (WHO) and Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), he said China has about 840,000 HIV/ AIDS infections, including 80,000 HIV/AIDS patients.

He warned that China still faces and uphill battle in its HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, citing a big income gap among different regions, underdevelopment in rural areas and criminal offenses like drug trafficking and prostitution that helped spread HIV/AIDS.

(China Daily September 24, 2003)

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