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UNAIDS Chief Heaps Praise on China's Anti-AIDS Efforts
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The Executive Director of UNAIDS, Dr. Peter Piot, praised the Chinese government's contribution to HIV/AIDS prevention on a return tour of the infamous AIDS villages in central China's Henan Province.

Piot made the remarks on Tuesday when recalling his visit on Monday to the severely AIDS-affected village of Nandawu in Shangcai County.

Piot and his delegation inspected the local clinics and elementary schools, and visited two AIDS patients' families there to have a closer look at their medical treatment and daily life.

He also paid a visit to the "Sunlight Home" in Shangcai, a government-funded charity that looks after AIDS orphans.

"During this tour, I have seen with my own eyes how the government supports those AIDS patients and cares about those AIDS-affected orphans. I pay respect to all the efforts, which are consistent with the commitment the Chinese government has made in the sector," said the UN official.

"I am looking forward to further cooperation between the United Nations and the Chinese central government," he said.

Though there is still a long way to eliminate HIV/AIDS, the joint efforts of more countries will surely bring benefit to the Chinese people as well as people over the world, he added.

Apart from treatment to those already infected by AIDS, Piot also called for better ways to prevent the further spread of the disease.

Nandawu Village, along with several other villages in Shangcai County, has been hit in the international media spotlight over the past decade due to its high incidence of AIDS, a result of illegal blood deals made before 1995.

Shangcai County, a poverty-stricken region home to more than one million people, had 6,925 HIV/AIDS patients by the end of July 2006, with most of the people having contracted the disease because of the contaminated blood donations or transfusions.

Since the beginning of 2004, the Chinese government has expended huge efforts in tackling the problem by intensifying publicity work, building more clinics, dispatching medical teams and offering free checkups and meditation.

More than 2,500 HIV/AIDS victims in Henan Province have received free traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) treatment in the past two years, according to provincial health authorities.

Besides, the provincial government has launched a program to subsidize those AIDS-affected families by granting 160 yuan (about US$20.4) to each orphan.

Twenty government-sponsored orphanages called "Sunlight Home" have been built around Henan, housing a total of 1,000 AIDS orphans.

These "Sunlight Homes" provide living expenses, tuition fees, psychological consultations and vocational training projects that equip the orphans with skills to make a living.

Around 200 million yuan (about US$26.3 million) has been allocated in the past four years to help raise the living standards in those villages heavily hit by AIDS.

(Xinhua News Agency July 17, 2007)

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