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Henan, Yunnan Move to Stop Spread of AIDS

The provinces of Henan and Yunnan that were worst-hit by AIDS have moved to cut off the spread of the fatal disease from high-risk groups to the general population.

Working teams will conduct surveys to locate high-risk groups and seek solutions, such as promoting the use of condoms.

Face-to-face education will be included in the intervention plan to improve the population's awareness of AIDS control.

Local disease prevention and control authorities in central China's Henan had set up intervention teams aimed at high-risk groups at provincial, city and county levels by the end of October, China News Agency reported.

The move is another step in government efforts to rein in AIDS.

The province has started surveying blood stations to discover the true extent of its AIDS epidemic.

The ongoing survey, which began on July 26, aims to poll more than 1 million people in 18 cities and 35 counties in the province who may have sold blood at unsanitary blood stations. The number of HIV/AIDS cases in Henan has hit 25,036. Among those infected, more than 97 percent come from rural areas, official statistics show. More than 11,800 infected people have already shown AIDS symptoms.

Chinese officials have acknowledged AIDS is moving from high-risk populations, such as drug users and prostitutes, into the general population through sexual transmission.

The Ministry of Health has decided to set up a national prevention framework among the high-risk population.

Southwest China's Yunnan Province has taken the first steps.

More than 1,340 medical professionals have been engaged in the prevention efforts among the province's 400,000-strong high-risk population to curb the spread of AIDS to the general public.

The Chinese Government has successfully launched a drive from the top to the grassroots level, raising national awareness of AIDS.

Prevention and control work is at a crucial stage as the epidemic may spread beyond high-risk groups.

With 840,000 HIV carriers reported, of whom 80,000 suffer from AIDS, China is ranked second in Asia and 14th in the world in terms of the number of HIV/AIDS patients.

China, alongside India and Russia, is one of the countries most at risk from AIDS outside Africa and health agencies say it could have 10 million victims by 2010 if it fails to take the threat seriously.

(China Daily November 8, 2004)

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