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National Committee Set up to Fight AIDS
Vice Minister of Health Wang Longde said Thursday that strategies for controlling HIV/AIDS in China are being developed.

He told a seminar on investment in Asia's health in Shanghai that the State Council has already set up a national committee with members from 26 ministries and commissions to work together for the control of HIV/AIDS in China.

Wang said at the seminar, held on the sidelines of the 35th Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of the Asian Development Bank, that people from various backgrounds are working on the nation's strategies for the control of HIV/AIDS in the most populous country in the world. However, he did not go into details.

Chinese official statistics for 2001 indicate that the total number of reported HIV/AIDS infected persons in China is 30,736, with 684 of them already dead.

However, it is widely believed that the actual figure could be more than 850,000.

Huge government efforts and wide international cooperation

HIV/AIDS, of little concern to the Chinese people just a decade ago, has now become one of the major problems on the mind of health officials in China. They have warned that with HIV/AIDS infection spreading from high-risk persons to the average population, the disease in China has entered a stage where rapid growth is threatened.

About 100 million yuan (US$12 million) has been invested in the fight against HIV/AIDS annually for the past five years in China, according to Chinese Ministry of Health sources.

The efforts of China, the most populous country in the world, to control the disease have been attracting attention from around the world.

"China can lead (in the prevention and control of HIV/AIDS) in the region and beyond the region,'' said Michel Sidibe, from UNAIDS -- the Joint UN Program on HIV/AIDS -- at the seminar.

The previous myth that Asian countries are immune from HIV/AIDS is dissolving, with an estimated 1 million people in Asia and Pacific region believed to be living with HIV/AIDS as of the end of 2001. The corresponding figure globally is 40 million.

"Asia must mobilize resources to mount and sustain large-scale and intensive prevention programs,'' said Sidibe, who noted that stigma and denial of the seriousness of the disease in the region has been an obstacle to effective prevention.

Apart from the government's measures to contain the disease, China is also reaching out for international co-operation in the field. Combating HIV/AIDS was discussed by Chinese President Jiang Zemin and his US counterpart George W. Bush when they met last February in Beijing.

"We would like to work with other countries and world organizations and NGOs (in combating HIV/AIDS),'' said Wang.

(People's Daily May 10, 2002)

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