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HIV/AIDS Villagers Get Health Treatment

A total of 114 provincial government officials and medical experts have gone to 38 villages in central China's Henan Province that have been hit by HIV/AIDS.

They intend to work and live in the villages for a year, Xinhua News Agency reported yesterday.

The move is part of the government's efforts to contain the spread of the virus and help those already infected.

Henan Province is probably the worst hit area in China for HIV/AIDS due to illegal blood selling, sources said.

Several years ago illegal blood banks paid money to poor farmers for their blood donations, but lax hygiene standards led to many people becoming infected.

The team members are from 38 provincial government departments and 22 provincial medical organizations, according to Wang Jumei, vice-governor of Henan Province.

"The members are all capable and familiar with rural conditions," Wang was quoted as saying by Xinhua.

The 38 villages, which have the worst incidence of HIV/AIDS in the province, have had outside help since 2004.

The official assistance aims to help establish and improve local medical treatment for HIV/AIDS sufferers, Ma Jianzhong, director of the Henan Provincial Health Bureau, was quoted as saying.

"The official teams will provide free anti-virus medicine to HIV carriers and free examinations," Ma said.

"The team will also try to prevent babies from being infected by mothers who suffer from HIV/AIDS," the official said.

Furthermore, orphans of AIDS victims will receive free schooling.

It is reported that those sent last year to the villages will work with the second batch who arrived yesterday until the end of the month.

The China News Service reported that thanks to previous help from health workers in the villages, the annual average income there has increased by over 200 yuan (US$24) per person.

Over 6,700 AIDS patients in the 38 villages have already had regular treatment.

An asphalt road, a well, a school, a clinic and an orphanage were also established in each village.

It is reported that a survey last year revealed that 25,000 blood donors have tested HIV positive in the province, according to the provincial health authority.

The Henan provincial government has stepped up efforts to prevent the spread of the disease.

A total of 232 million yuan (US$28 million) was invested last year in medical treatment and assistance to victims.

The provincial government invested another 28 million yuan (US$3.4 million) early this year, Xinhua reported.

Sources with the Ministry of Health said there are around 130,000 confirmed cases of HIV/AIDS in China, however, the real figure is thought to be more than 800,000.

(China Daily April 21, 2005)

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