Several years ago the country became the target of international
criticism after the media exposed the so-called AIDS villages in Henan Province. China has come a long way
since then. The government has now impressed the whole world with
its strong commitment and concrete actions it has taken to check
the spread of the deadly disease.
The awards given to Vice-Minister of Health Wang Longde and
Qingdao University Professor Zhang Beichuan by UNAIDS yesterday
have burnished the country's international reputation.
Dr Peter Piot, executive director of UNAIDS, also praised the
government's prevention work after touring the former Henan AIDS
villages, which were ravaged by the disease in the early 1990s
after contaminated blood found its way into the illegal blood
Thanks to tireless efforts by governments at all levels and
members of the public, the situation in those villages has improved
substantially. All infected people now receive free checkups and
medication, while the orphans of people who have died because of
the disease receive subsidies from the government.
Henan's example is typical of the efforts the government has
undertaken in recent years to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in the
world's most populous country.
Last year, the authorities put in place a special regulation to
help check the spread of HIV. The rule clearly defines the
government's responsibilities in fighting the disease, laying the
legal groundwork for the crusade. A national action plan has also
been drawn up to guide such efforts over the next several
Despite everything that has been achieved, we should remain
sober-minded as we are still in the middle of an all-out war
against a deadly adversary.
The country is home to 650,000 people infected with HIV.
Providing timely and affordable medication to these people is a
challenge in itself.
Moreover, the concentration of infections within certain
segments of society - women, migrant workers and gays, in
particular - poses a challenge to prevention work.
The high incidence of AIDS among gay men needs to be addressed
immediately. Professor Zhang estimates that there are 30 million
gay men in China.
(China Daily July 18, 2007)