Traditional Chinese Medicine(TCM) now plays an important role in treating the 840,000 HIV/AIDS sufferers in China, a senior official said on Friday.
As the country puts more effort into research on how to apply it in the fight against the virus, TCM is expected to bolster the worldwide anti-HIV campaign, said She Jing, minister of the State Administration of TCM.
A comprehensive care project carried out in five provinces, including Henan, provided free TCM treatment to 2,300 HIV/AIDS sufferers there, She said at a press conference held by the Information Office of State Council.
In Central China's Henan Province, a total of 1,400 HIV carriers received the free TCM treatment since the beginning of 2004. The results have been positive, she said.
These 1,400 people were selected from 1,812 HIV carriers who could not bear the strong and often painful side effects of western medicine and had stopped their treatment with anti-virus drugs.
In Henan Province, a total of 9,000 people receive free treatment using western medicines provided by the government. Many complain about the strong side-effects.
TCM has less side effects and enhances the body's immune functions, She said.
Meanwhile, TCM can also improve patients' ability to tolerate the pain brought on by western drugs, treat some infectious diseases caused by the virus, and improve the quality of life of the patients.
The free treatment is carried out fully according to the wishes of the patients, She said.
She said that her administration is organizing experts to strengthen research into new ways of using TCM to clinically treat HIV/AIDS patients.
Up to now, experts have found that there are more than 70 ingredients used in TCM with anti-HIV functions, she said.
In fact, TCM has proved its effectiveness in building up people's resistance to some new and deadly viruses, especially in the fighting against SARS, she said.
The combination of TCM and western medicine treatments provided much better results, with a much lower death rate, than treatment using only western medicines in the past year, She said.
A TCM medical and research center focused on HIV will be set up soon by the administration.
The combination of TCM and the western medicines has also helped treat some after-effects of SARS, such as the thighbone necrosis, in Beijing's Dongzhimen Hospital which plays a leading role in this field.
She also noted that China will take more effective measures to protect the patent rights of TCM because more and more foreign companies and institutes are using many TCM prescriptions improperly and profiting from them in other countries.
(China Daily October 9, 2004)