China Focus: Health minister lists four AIDS fight challenges

2012-12-01 13:12:38 GMT2012-12-01 21:12:38(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

BEIJING, Dec. 1 (Xinhua) -- China is facing four new challenges in fighting HIV/AIDS, though the nation has managed to roll back the rising trend of HIV infection, health minister Chen Zhu said on Saturday, World AIDS Day.

More difficulties for HIV intervention, increasing risks of transmission, growing demand for treatment funds, and inadequate capabilities among social organizations are pressing matters, Chen said while participating in activities raising awareness about AIDS.

Sex is the leading route for HIV transmission, and sex between men is on the rise as a major cause of new HIV/AIDS infections in China. The ways of transmission have become more concealed, which has brought greater difficulties for HIV intervention, according to the minister.

It is estimated that nearly half of China's HIV carriers haven't yet been discovered, as many with high sexual risk behaviors do not voluntarily seek HIV tests or are not willing to receive tests for fear of being discriminated against.

Chen warned that this large number of hidden HIV carriers leads to increasing risks of HIV transmission.

While more HIV/AIDS cases are reported year on year, the number of patients resistant to the usual drugs increases, he said. That raises growing demand for varieties of HIV/AIDS drugs and increased funding for treatment.

Efforts are also needed to improve the capabilities of social organizations and enhance their participation in AIDS control, said Chen.

In the past 10 years, China has made remarkable achievements in controlling the spread of HIV/AIDS, curbing the diseases' rapid rise and keeping the overall infection rate at a low level, Chen said.

"The mortality rate related to HIV/AIDS has decreased, and the living quality of people with HIV/AIDS has significantly improved."

Under China's AIDS Action Plan for the 12th Five-Year Program period (2011-2015) published this February by the State Council, the country is aiming to decrease AIDS fatalities by 30 percent by 2015, and new cases by 25 percent as compared to 2010.

According to figures from the Ministry of Health, China had reported a total of 492,191 cases of HIV/AIDS by the end of October, including 68,802 new cases this year. Some 17,740 AIDS-related deaths were reported in the country from January to October, a year-on-year increase of 8.6 percent.

"Social organizations are an important force to prevent and control the spread of AIDS. The government is expected to improve its management of social organizations and provide them with more instructions and help," said Zhang Wenkang, chairman of the Chinese Association of STD/AIDS Prevention and Control.

Zhang, former health minister, urged the social organizations to improve their capabilities and assist the government in the fight against AIDS.

They should actively implement government policies in this regard and do more work in bottleneck areas of HIV/AID prevention and control, he urged.

A short film entitled "Be Together Forever" was released during the activities, calling on people from all social strata to care for and help children affected by HIV/AIDS and not to discriminate against those living with HIV/AIDS.

Peng Liyuan, a World Health Organization ambassador for the fight against AIDS and a publicity representative of China's Health Ministry for AIDS control, joined in Saturday's activities among 400 attendees representing the government, social organizations at home and abroad, medical institutions, volunteers and people with HIV/AIDS.

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