China will introduce a national regulation on prevention and control of AIDS at the end of this year, and will provide nationwide training courses to nearly 500,000 officials above county levels, Vice-Minister of Health Wang Longde said yesterday.
The practice is expected to boost the country's efforts of keeping the number of HIV carriers below 1.5 million in the next five years.
Wang said that the regulation has been prepared over a two-year period, and will be submitted to the State Council's meeting for approval next month.
He made the remarks at a panel discussion at the three-day International Symposium on Official Development Assistance for Population and Development, which concludes today.
The rules, the first of their kind in the country, will require governments at all levels to provide free medical treatment to HIV sufferers living in poverty, protect the rights of HIV-AIDS patients and punish officials who neglect their duties in controlling AIDS.
The training courses will be completed by the end of next year, with the aim of improving AIDS-related knowledge of all major officials. This is crucial in China, according to Wang, as discrimination against HIV-AIDS sufferers is still rampant.
The Ministry of Health announced that China had a total of 126,808 people who officially reported as HIV-positive at the end of July, but the estimated number of sufferers could be as high as 840,000.
The total registered number of AIDS patients is 28,789 and the death toll is 7,375, according to Wang.
Dai Zhicheng, the head of the Chinese Association of Sexually Transmitted Disease and AIDS Prevention, said earlier this month that China plans to keep the number of people infected with HIV below 1.5 million by 2010.
If no effective measures are taken, the number could exceed 10 million by that time, Dai warned.
Wang said yesterday that the central government had poured 830 million yuan (US$101 million) into AIDS prevention work this year, and the investment could even be more next year.
China also attaches importance to carrying out international co-operation in AIDS prevention, according to Wang, noting that such projects have been conducted in 27 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities across the country, involving 1.867 billion yuan (US$229 million).
Wang said that a new investigation on China's AIDS prevention and control situation is being conducted by the Chinese Government and certain international organizations, and the latest figures will be released around December 1, World AIDS Day.
Participants of the symposium concluded their panel meetings yesterday and released a document known as the Suzhou Declaration, which called for the international community to increase official development assistance for population and development.
They agreed to make joint efforts in realizing the goals of reducing poverty, improving reproductive health and encouraging gender equality.
(China Daily October 28, 2005)