The State Council, Chinese cabinet, in a circular publicized Sunday admitted that AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) epidemic is still quickly spreading in the country and a series of urgent measures must be taken to change the situation.
Almost at the same time, Vice-Premier Wu Yi's speech a month ago on AIDS prevention was publicized in full text, stressing China's AIDS prevention and control work is at a crucial stage because the epidemic may spread from high-risk groups to normal people.
China's fight against AIDS/HIV has lasted 19 years, since the first HIV infectious case was discovered in 1985. The assessment report on China' s AIDS prevention and control, released by 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, official figures show. Some experts warn that over 10 million Chinese will be HIV-positive in 2010, unless effective measures are taken.
Stressing the extreme importance and emergency of curbing the quick spread of the deadly disease in China, Wu said if no effective prevention and control measures are taken, "the consequences will be very grievous."
The Chinese government has taken a number of measures in this regard, including free treatment for the poor, the establishment of AIDS control centers, the legislation of AIDS-related laws and international cooperation.
"We should enhance management over blood banks, strictly crack down upon illegal blood collection and ban in-hospital infection to curb virus spread through blood transfusions," she said.
Firm measures should be taken to cut down on prostitution as well as the use and sale of banned drugs, and use of condoms and exchange of clean syringe needles should be encouraged, Wu said.
In the 12-page circular, local governments at all levels and relevant organizations are required to pay extreme attention to combat AIDS, and major governmental leaders at all localities should be responsible for the AIDS spread.
"Those officials breaching duty or hiding epidemic reports will be severely punished," the circular says, calling for establishment of local AIDS prevention and treatment working committees in regions seriously afflicted by the AIDS.
The State Council has set up a national working committee for AIDS prevention early this year to coordinate the country's efforts to prevent and curb the spread of AIDS.
The government underscores nationwide education work to let more people, especially those in rural areas, know AIDS, its harm and ways to prevent it.
AIDS-related knowledge will be added to current teaching programs in middle schools, vocational schools as well as colleges, the circular says.
Entertainment venues should post printed materials in public to spread AIDS prevention knowledge. And medical workers have duty to spread knowledge on AIDS prevention and condom use to their patients, the circular says.
Health departments, together with Red Cross Societies, should encourage all healthy and young citizens to engage in free blood donation. And the public security departments should vigorously intensify the fight against illegal blood selling activities, the circular says.
Pregnant women will receive free AIDS prevention medical services in a bid to drop the possibility of mother-to-baby HIV transmission, says the circular.
Research and production of new anti-AIDS medicines will speed up and the government will input more funds to AIDS prevention and treatment.
The capital-strained AIDS carriers as well as their family relatives will receive financial aids from the government and more efforts will be exerted to eliminate the social discrimination against AIDS patients, says the circular.
International cooperation will be enhanced and foreign experience on AIDS prevention and treatment will be studied and introduced, says the circular.
(Xinhua News Agency May 10, 2004)