The Ministry of Public Health has urged public health departments above county level to set up their own AIDS expert panels to prevent and control the spread of the disease, and provide better services for AIDS victims.
According to an instruction formulated recently by the ministry in cooperation with the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the expert panel should be composed of such professionals as clinical experts, including TCM practitioners, experts in the field of health care, prevention and control of infectious diseases and lab testing.
Health authorities with city governments and districts under their jurisdiction should designate a hospital or a department with a comprehensive hospital (including TCM hospitals where conditions permit) to provide services for AIDS patients at critical conditions, according to the instruction.
Hospitals with responsibilities to provide services for AIDS victims are also urged to offer pregnant women who test HIV positive health consultation services, prenatal advice and delivery services, and must prevent maternal AIDS transmission, and conduct regular interviews with the patients.
China's AIDS prevention and control work is at a crucial stage because the epidemic may spread from high-risk groups to the general population, said Vice-Premier Wu Yi at a national work conference on AIDS prevention held here on Tuesday and Wednesday.
China's fight against AIDS/HIV has lasted 19 years, since the first HIV case in 1985. The assessment report on China's AIDS prevention and control, released by the Ministry of Health, shows HIV is an epidemic covering all the mainland's 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities. There are 840,000 HIV-carriers, of whom 80,000 suffer AIDS.
Experts warn that over 10 million Chinese will be HIV-positive in 2010, unless effective counter-measures are taken.
The Chinese government has taken a number of measures in this regard, including increased funding support for AIDS-related programs, free treatment for the poor, the establishment of AIDS control centers, the legislation of AIDS-related laws and international cooperation.
China also set up 51 county-level regions which served as pilot zones for AIDS prevention and treatment in 11 provinces, where efforts are being made to offer free anti-retroviral drugs, reduce high risk behavior, prevent maternal transmission of HIV, provide assistance and care to AIDS patients as well as voluntary counseling and testing.
(Xinhua News Agency April 20, 2004)