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HIV/AIDS Program Gets More Support
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The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is to launch a joint country program on HIV/AIDS in China, to integrate the activities of various UN agencies within a common plan, a leading UNDP representative said in Guangzhou.

Called the "UN Joint Country Program on HIV/AIDS in China", the program aims to provide continuous support for China's Five-Year Action Plan for HIV/AIDS, Khalid Malik, the UNDP's resident representative in China, said.

He was speaking during a recent visit to Guangzhou, the capital of south China's Guangdong Province.

China announced its national five-year (2006-10) plan for the control of AIDS last year.

At the local level, the UN will provide support to a number of provinces to bolster efforts and complement other external agencies. It will also provide a link between local actions and the national elements of the joint country program, Malik said.

"Over the past decade, UN agencies in China have played a significant role with respect to promoting national advocacy, policy and planning in the field of HIV/AIDS," Malik said.

According to sources with the Ministry of Health, the confirmed number of Chinese living with HIV/AIDS at the end of April was almost 204,000.

In May 2003, China launched the "China Care" program in selected counties in 25 provinces with the aim to build a strong care and support mechanism for people living with HIV/AIDS.

"But in many of the counties there is a severe lack of capacity for counseling, so progress with the treatment is slow. Also many unforeseen obstacles are being encountered, such as people dropping out of the program because they are not getting proper advice from the doctors," Malik said.

As a result, the UN's HIV/AIDS programs have been aimed at facilitating China's efforts in the war on fighting the disease, Malik said.

Early in 2005, the UNDP launched the Program Acceleration Funds (PAF) in Guangdong, which was designed to assist the UN Theme Group in playing a facilitating role in advancing the scope, scale and effectiveness of the country's response to HIV/AIDS.

According to Malik, the national budget for HIV/AIDS has grown from approximately US$12.5 million in 2002 to about US$185 million last year.

(China Daily June 19, 2007)

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