High-level committee to prevent AIDS set up in China
A new national AIDS prevention committee was established Thursday to beef up China's battle against the spread of HIV and the deadly affliction it causes.
Headed by Vice-Premier and Minister of Health Wu Yi, the group is comprised of senior officials from nearly two dozen departments of the central government. They will be joined by officials from seven provinces seriously plagued by the disease.
The committee will draft policies and rules for AIDS prevention and co-ordinate related major issues in mobilizing public resources to push forward AIDS control throughout China, Wu said.
"AIDS, a menace for global public health, is trending upward in China and will threaten the country's social stability and economy without effective and timely control," Wu warned.
The latest figures from the health ministry show there are 840,000 HIV carriers on the Chinese mainland, of whom 80,000 suffer from AIDS.
As the number of HIV carriers has rapidly risen, the virus has spread from high-risk groups like drug abusers into the wider population.
To prevent its spread, the vice-premier called on authorities concerned to earnestly carry out four government-set policies already in place.
They include providing free treatment for the urban and rural needy HIV/AIDS patients, free and anonymous blood tests for those living in the epidemic-stricken areas, free consultation services and anti-AIDS treatment for pregnant women in those areas, and free schooling for orphans of AIDS victims.
At the first meeting of the committee, Wu also made it clear the government will rescue poor AIDS patients and help those who still have the ability to work to make a living.
Meanwhile, the committee pledged to raise public awareness of AIDS-prevention, dispel discrimination towards patients of AIDS, tackle illegal blood donations, and to crack down on prostitution and drug abuse -- major issues blamed for rapid spread of the disease.