The Chinese government, which estimates the country's HIV carriers at 840,000, Friday urged the business sector to get involved in its massive campaign against HIV/AIDS.
"To prevent and control HIV/AIDS is not only the obligation of the Chinese government, but also the common responsibility of the entire society including the business sector," Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi said at a one-day joint summit on business and AIDS in Beijing.
Wu, China's Health Minister following the SARS outbreak in early 2003, has been leading China's fight against HIV/AIDS in recent years.
"The Chinese government attaches great importance to the prevention and control of HIV/AIDS," she said.
The Chinese government will continue to improve laws and regulations, increase financial input and enforce free treatment and the care measures to HIV patients. It will mobilize all social sectors to participate in HIV/AIDS prevention and control and create a favorable environment in which the whole society cares about and supports HIV/AIDS prevention and control, she said.
In contrast to the government's high level of advocacy, most Chinese companies still remain silent on HIV/AIDS.
Trevor Neilson, Executive Director of the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS (GBC), said most Chinese companies still regard HIV/AIDS as the government's problem, not their own. "It's pretty similar to the way companies in developed countries felt in the early days of the disease."
But Neilson expressed optimism that more Chinese companies would join the HIV/AIDS campaign.
Founded in 1997, GBC aims to promote an enlarged and enhanced business response to HIV/AIDS. Neilson said the GBC has obtained the Chinese government's permission to set up a branch office in Beijing.
Meanwhile, Chinese health officials expressed their interests in the role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in HIV/AIDS prevention.
Chinese Vice Health Minister Wang Longde said at the summit, "We've understood deeply that in HIV/AIDS prevention there are certain things that the government is not able to do,"
"People like drug addicts, sex workers and homosexuals are reluctant to talk to government workers. Therefore, we must encourage NGOs to participate in the work," he said.