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UN, China coordinate HIV/AIDS response
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A cooperative program was wrapped up on Friday between the United Nations and China's top legislature in order to strengthen the legal environment for a coordinated response to HIV/AIDS.

The program aims to increase the cross-sector leadership capacity of 500 provincial and local level legislators in five provinces.

It will review and provide recommendations to harmonize laws and regulations relating to HIV/AIDS at the national level and assist strengthening provincial legislation.

The implementation will "empower officials and decision-makers at provincial and county levels in understanding the conditions of the disease, what it means, and try to help others deal with this matter," said Khalid Malik, United Nations resident coordinator.

Widespread discrimination against people with HIV/AIDS exists at many levels in China, UN officials said earlier this week.

"Through this process, the stigma and discrimination can be reduced," Malik said.

In terms of the percentage of people and the number affected, "China is a country with a low prevalence of HIV/AIDS."

Even so, the epidemic is no longer focused on high risk groups and is "getting mainstream", he said, adding the "gender dimension of the epidemic is getting feminized".

Of the 700,000 people in the country with HIV/AIDS, about 30 percent are female, compared with 19.4 percent in 2000, according to the Ministry of Health.

To combat the disease the Ministry of Finance said on Friday it had earmarked 860 million yuan ($116 million) to this year's HIV/AIDS prevention efforts, pushing the total money spent on prevention of the disease from 2003-07 to 3.81 billion yuan.

"At the national level, China has done an excellent job in developing policies and legislation to respond to AIDS," Subinay Nandy, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) China director, said at the signing ceremony.

(China Daily December 1, 2007)

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