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Guangdong to Boost HIV Services
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Faced with a growing number of HIV cases, officials in Guangzhou and Shenzhen have pledged to beef up efforts to control spread of the deadly virus.

The two economic powerhouses, located in south China's Guangdong Province, have been hit with a serious HIV problem. The virus can lead to AIDS.

In Guangzhou, the capital city of Guangdong, 1,585 HIV cases were reported last year, bringing the total to 4,806 in the last 20 years, sources with the Guangzhou Center for Disease Control and Prevention said (GDCDC).

Meanwhile Shenzhen reported 622 new HIV cases last year, according to the Shenzhen Center for Disease Control and Prevention (SZCDC).

Between 1992 and 2006, there were 2,016 new HIV cases within the coastal city, with an annual increase of 58.3 percent, Shenzhen center sources said.

"New cases resulted from sexual activities and intravenous injection, which led to more than 60 percent of the total last year in Guangzhou," said Cai Weiping, an AIDS doctor with the Guangzhou No. 8 People's Hospital. "We will attach utmost importance to promote education of HIV prevention among the public."

Although the hospital received almost 300 HIV patients last year, most HIV carriers were embarrassed to request medical treatment, officials said.

"This really has posed great risks for control and prevention of HIV as they are likely to be another potential source for the spreading of HIV," Cai said.

Sources at the Guangzhou center said just 230 cases in Guangzhou were traced after detection last year.

"Most HIV patients have developed strong defensive views toward taking their identification to doctors as they are afraid of being discriminated by family members and colleagues," Cai said.

As a result, the GDCDC has organized a special team consisting of specialists from various hospitals and healthcare institutes to promote HIV education.

"Special efforts will target those people with high potential of HIV," said Xu Huifang, director of the AIDS prevention department of the GDCDC.

According to Xu, the team will visit places frequented by prostitutes and promote condom use. "We will also organize an AIDS volunteer team to frequently promote HIV education in public places," Xu said.

Meanwhile, HIV education has also been carried out in all primary and middle schools in Guangzhou.

Chen Zhaorong, an official with the Guangzhou bureau of education, said students and parents didn't want to touch the subject just a few years ago.

Chen said the bureau has set up a special department to deal with healthcare education among students.

(China Daily April 5, 2007)

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