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Sino-US Scheme Seeks AIDS Prevention Plan

A global HIV/AIDS program, aimed at finding new strategies to prevent the spread of the virus, was officially launched Tuesday in Beijing 

"The major strategy of our program is to prevent secondary generation transmission of HIV from the existing carriers to more people," said Ray Yip, director of the China Office of the Global AIDS Programme, run by the Centre for Disease Control in the United States.


However, in China, nearly 90 percent of the officially estimated 840,000 HIV/AIDS sufferers are not identified, creating a great barrier to prevent the spread of the virus, Yip said.


"Without knowing where the majority of these people with HIV virus are, how can we prevent them from infecting others or give them care?" he noted.


That's why identifying these unknown carriers has become a vital factor in the country's fight against HIV/AIDS, he said during the launching ceremony of China-US Cooperation on Prevention and Care for HIV/AIDS Project, part of the Global AIDS Program (GAP).


A total of 10 counties from Henan, the Tibet Autonomous Region and other eight provinces and regions have been selected as the first group of pilot sites for the project.


And the project will be done in these regions as a partnership with CARES, a national program which lists 51 HIV/AIDS-stricken counties as models in comprehensive care for HIV/AIDS sufferers.


The CDC will invest a total of US$15 million in China in the next five years.


As a whole, the United States will donate US$35 million in the following five years to HIV/AIDS control projects jointly sponsored by the US and China, Clark Randt, US ambassador to China, said.


Besides financial support, the GAP project will also bring advanced HIV/AIDS control strategies, especially in regards to preventing secondary transmission, said Qi Xiaoqiu, director of the Disease Control Department of the Ministry of Health.


One way to prevent the secondary transmission is to attract unidentified HIV carriers to voluntarily seek consultations and tests, Yip said.


The project will add its efforts to the Chinese Government's in providing comprehensive care -- including free medical treatment for HIV/AIDS sufferers in the model counties.


Yip said providing comprehensive care is a basic way of encouraging HIV carriers to come out for treatment without worrying about the expense of medicines.


The Chinese central government promised last year to provide medical treatment for poverty-stricken HIV/AIDS victims.


Meanwhile, the project will also develop proper and effective working methods in such areas as victims' privacy, psychological support and human rights protection to dispel misgivings among HIV carriers and attracting them to receive tests.


Moreover, China should monitor and test people in high-risk groups, including the drug users, sex workers and people who have illegally sold blood. Those groups make up the majority of the HIV/AIDS cases in China, Yip added.


China still has a window opportunity to stop the rapid increase rate of the virus, which is 32 percent a year, if it can take effective measures immediately to prevent the virus from spreading to the general population from the high-risk groups, Yip said.


(China Daily March 3, 2004)

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