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Marked Progress in HIV/AIDS Prevention Reported

Southwest China's Sichuan Province has made remarkable progress in HIV/AIDS prevention as various education campaigns have helped about 400,000 of the most at-risk people acquire knowledge on prevention of the deadly disease.

A Sino-British joint STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease) and AIDS prevention program, initiated in 2000, has yielded tangible results in the province, according to the provincial Health Bureau. Amidst other efforts, the program has helped to slow transmission of the deadly epidemic from the most at-risk population, including sex workers, drug users and homosexuals to the general population, said a source with the bureau.

The province has also launched an education campaign among the most at-risk females, such as prostitutes, in 35 of its cities, counties and districts. About 243,000 women have therefore learned how to protect themselves from AIDS through ways like partner education and promotion of condom use.

According to a survey, the rate of condom use in commercial sex in the province has risen from 71 percent in 2002 to 86 percent in 2005. Around 132,000 drug users have benefited from needle exchange programs and methadone maintenance therapy and 240,000 homosexuals have received education on safe sex, according to statistics from the local health bureau. It also said the province has built eight free AIDS testing centers and trained 6,500 doctors and social workers.

China's Ministry of Health said on Feb. 21 that the country reported 144, 089 HIV carriers by the end of 2005. The latest assessment jointly issued by the ministry, the World Health Organization and United Nations AIDS Program estimated there are 650,000 HIV carriers, including 75,000 AIDS patients, in China.

(Xinhua News Agency February 24, 2006)  

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