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NGO Encouraged to Fight Against AIDS
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A senior health official said on Wednesday that China encourages non-governmental organizations' participation in China's fight against AIDS.

Wang Longde, China's Vice Minister of Health, made the remark when attending the opening ceremony of the consultation on social determinants of health in the western pacific region of the World Health Organization.

He said that government efforts alone are not enough to fight against HIV/AIDS, given the large population of 1.3 billion people and more NGOs should join in the battle.

On March 1, China started implementing the Guidelines for HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control, indicating the determination of the Chinese government to fight against AIDS. The government has introduced condom use in cities, needle exchange centers and Methadone treatment for drug users.

However, with regards to sexual transmission, NGOs are well-established among the people so they have advantages in HIV/AIDS intervention and prevention control, Wang said.

According to statistics from the Ministry of Health, 44.3 percent of HIV/AIDS patients were infected through drug use and 43.6 percent through sexual contact.

China has seen the growth of the role of NGOs in HIV/AIDS prevention and control work in recent years. Several volunteer groups dedicated to AIDS prevention among homosexuals in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chongqing have been set up.

For example, the China Rainbow Organization, based in Chongqing, plays an important role in preventing the spread of HIV among homosexuals with financial help from the British Barry & Martin Trust Fund.

Wang said earlier this month that China is set to improve its AIDS intervention in the country's high-risk groups, including sex workers, drug users, homosexuals and their partners.

China has an estimated 650,000 known HIV/AIDS cases, with 75,000 known AIDS patients, according to findings of a study released by China's health ministry, the World Health Organisation and UNAIDS in January.

(Xinhua News Agency March 23, 2006)

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