Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi has made a special investigation tour to assess AIDS control in a village in central China's Henan Province, where she visited villagers with the disease.
The face-to-face visit represents the second public meeting between senior Chinese government officials and AIDS patients. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on December 1 shook hands and spoke to three AIDS patients at a hospital in Beijing, a move apparently designed to show support for nationwide efforts to curb the disease.
According to a report by the Henan provincial government to the vice premier, contaminated blood transfusion involving poor farmers before 1995 has resulted in the spread of the disease in some areas in the province.
Both the central government and provincial governments have allocated at least US$2 million to the control of the disease, a county official told Xinhua.
During her three-day tour that ended on Dec. 20, the vice premier inspected a clinic in Wenlou village in Shangcai County, where she observed as medical workers examined AIDS patients.
The vice premier also visited medical workers and AIDS patients receiving treatment, talked with them about their illness, and later she visited two families with AIDS patients in the village.
She then attended a discussion with AIDS patients, and during the discussion, she shook hands with AIDS patients, and asked how they were infected, and their reaction to drugs.
She urged the AIDS patients to trust the government, build up their confidence in the fight against the disease, and cooperate with medical workers for speedy recovery.
During her tour, Wu described the prevention and control of AIDS as a long-term and arduous task, which has a bearing on economic development, social development, national security and the prosperity of the nation.
She called for an AIDS prevention and control mechanism characterized by the leadership of the governments, coordinated efforts between various government departments and participation of the whole society.
With the mechanism in place, Wu said, AIDS prevention and control should be listed as a priority on the government's agenda.
China has taken measures to fight the disease, including improving leadership, increased investment in programs to prevention and control in areas hit hard by the disease, and free medicine and treatment of rural residents and needy urban residents, said the vice premier.
Describing the situation of AIDS prevention and control as grim, the vice premier said China would launch publicity campaigns to curb discrimination against HIV carriers and AIDS patients, and improve its monitoring of the epidemic situation by punishing those who were found responsible for covering up AIDS cases.
She said governments at all levels should continue to crack down hard on illegal blood deals, and regulate the blood donation system, and pay close attention to the problems caused by people with AIDS to maintain social stability.
China now has reportedly 840,000 HIV carriers, including 80,000 AIDS patients. The figure might rocket to ten million by 2010, predicted experts.
(Xinhua News Agency December 24, 2003)