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Chinese youngsters join anti-AIDS campaign on campus
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21:57, November 28, 2008

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"Life is a long journey and we will always stay with you," this is what a group of mute students said to HIV infected people using sign language.

These disabled students at Huangshan Special School in south China's Anhui Province has been an example to other secondary school students in the country who have been taught how to prevent HIV/AIDS in class courses promoted by the Ministry of Education.

"To me you are all winners," said David McLoughlin, UNICEF's deputy-representative to China, to the teachers and students attending an awarding ceremony held in the Middle School to attached Peking University on Friday.

AIDS continues to have a devastating impact on children and young people, McLoughlin said. Globally, four young people are infected with HIV every minute, and in China alike, we see the epidemic affecting younger and younger people.

"Although much has been done by the government of China and civil society, the AIDS situation gives us no reason for complacency," he stressed.

According to China's 2008 progress report to the UN General Assembly Special Session on AIDS goals and commitments, the percentage of young women and men aged 15 to 24 who both correctly know ways of preventing the sexual transmission of HIV and reject major misconceptions about HIV transmission was about 41 percent by the end of 2007.

However the incidence of sexually transmitted infections and HIV is increasing amongst young people and the age for first sexual experience is decreasing.

"Education is the only effective vaccine under the current situation as no effective medical method has been found," said Chen Xiaoya, Chinese vice-minister of Education, stressing the education departments should take up the responsibility.

Liu Ying, a teacher with Beijing Jingshan Middle School whose anti-HIV/AIDS course won the first prize, said the most important task of education is to help youngsters establish the right value system and healthy sexual knowledge, so that they can better protect their health and life and become more responsible to the civil society.

In recent years, China has strengthened the school-based HIV/AIDS education by giving training to teaching staff, delivering teaching materials and printing HIV/AIDS-related brochures. Up to now, more than 87 percent of the Chinese schools give anti-HIV/AIDS education, and 88.1 percent students have acquired relevant knowledge.

Bai Huqun, vice-director of the disease control division of the Chinese Ministry of Health hoped that youngsters, as the future of the nation, should learn how to prevent AIDS and join the national campaign.

By the end of 2007, China had reported around 700,000 HIV carriers and AIDS patients.

All the students at the awarding ceremony knew that the 21st World AIDS Day will fall on next Monday, and this year's theme will be combating AIDS and fulfilling commitment.

Source: Xinhua

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