China has taken
significant steps to fight HIV and AIDS, but many
long-term challenges remain, such as reaching out to more
patients in the vast country and overcoming a lack of
cooperation from some government officials, a U.N.
AIDS official said Tuesday.
650,000 people are living with HIV in China, according
to the most recent government statistics from the end of
2005. HIV gained a foothold in China largely through
unsanitary blood plasma-buying schemes and tainted
transfusions in hospitals.
''I believe that
over the last few years there have been serious progress
and good results in the fight against AIDS in China, and now
the challenge is to sustain these efforts,'' said
Peter Piot, executive director of UNAIDS.
successes in China include commitment and transparency at
the top levels of government as well as proper
funding, availability of antiretroviral drugs, and
outreach programs. ''I've been coming to China for 14,
15 years, and I can say in the first five or six years there
was basically no receptivity in terms of the issue,''
he said. ''And now, today, a lot is going on. You look
at budgets; systems are being put in place. I think
it's really very different.''
returned from Shangcai county in Henan province, where
unclean blood-buying businesses passed the virus to
thousands of people in the 1990s. He toured a clinic
and an orphanage for AIDS orphans and also visited
There was a 50%
reduction in the number of AIDS deaths in Henan province
between 2002 and last year, said Wang Longde, China's vice
minister of public health, who also spoke at the U.N.
transfusions using infected blood have fallen sharply since
the 1990s. The government has banned the practice of
buying blood and has forbidden donations by
prostitutes, intravenous drug users, and others in
high HIV risk groups. (AP)