BEIJING -- President Hu Jintao called on Monday for spreading AIDS prevention knowledge to the public and helping each AIDS patient, during his visit to a hospital here on World AIDS Day.
It was the third time in five years that Hu inspected AIDS prevention work by meeting medical staff, researchers and patients.
Hu's hand-to-hand contact with HIV/AIDS patients is intended to help remove the social stigma of AIDS in China. The widely reported, high-profile event showcased the government's resolve to tackle the growing AIDS problem in China.
A joint investigation by Chinese health officials, a UN agency and the World Health Organization found that there were about 700,000 Chinese living with HIV/AIDS at the end of 2007, 85,000 of whom were AIDS patients.
At the hospital, Hu shook hands with two visiting female HIV carriers and asked about their health and living problems.
The facility is a social community providing HIV carriers with services including psychological and AIDs counseling and legal assistance.
Wearing a crimson ribbon, Hu asked about their lives and health.
One woman, Xiao Zheng, 28, told Hu that she was found to be infected last December when she was pregnant. With the hospital's help, she got free medication to prevent transmission to her child. Her daughter, now six months old, was in sound health.
The other woman, who used the pseudonym Xiao Xia, later told Xinhua that Hu's visit gave her warmth and encouragement.
In the infectious disease center of the hospital, which is China's clinical pharmacology base for HIV/AIDS and offers free AIDS control service, Hu examined the facilities and spoke with researchers about everything from their equipment to the use of their work.
Hu spoke highly of the center's achievements in the field of anti-viral vaccines and new medicines, stressing that science and technology must be relied on to conquer the disease.