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NGOs Urged to Play Bigger Role in Fighting AIDS

A senior UNAIDS official Monday urged China's non-governmental and community-based organizations to participate more effectively in the fight against AIDS.

Joel Rehnstrom, UNAIDS China coordinator, made the remark at a press conference held Monday by the Positive Art Workshop (PAW) and the Hard Rock Cafe, at which pop singers from the Chinese mainland and Taiwan were invited to arouse awareness of AIDS among the public.

Rehnstrom said that many non-governmental and community-based organizations have accumulated a great deal of experiences and expertise in dealing with AIDS-related work. They have a crucial role to play in the nationwide action against AIDS.

Without sustainable attention to AIDS, the efforts of the Chinese government to create a prosperous, harmonious and well-off society would be restrained, said Rehnstrom.

Although the impact of AIDS on overall economic growth is not obvious, the impact on individuals, families and communities is great, particularly in the provinces and regions of Henan, Yunnan, Xinjiang, Guangxi and Sichuan, he added.

At the press conference, Song Pengfei, the first HIV carrier who revealed his identity to the public in China, called for more involvement by pop singers and artists in arousing AIDS awareness, who can have a great impact on young people in China.

Song was infected with HIV through a blood transfusion at the age of 14. He has been actively taken part in the AIDS-related work in recent years.

Positive Art Workshop is a NGO founded by the Ford Foundation and supported by the Beijing You'an Hospital in 2003, which has provided art therapy for people living with HIV. So far PAW has provided art therapy to more than 200 HIV carriers.

(Xinhua News Agency November 28, 2005)

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