China Among AIDS-Ridden Asian Countries

China, with more than 400,000 HIV carriers, has become one of the Asian countries most seriously plagued by the AIDS disease, according to the Ministry of Health.

China ranks the fourth in Asia in numbers of HIV-positive cases, following India, Thailand and Myanmar, and 17th in world, Vice Minister of Health Yin Dakui said at a national meeting to coincide with World AIDS Day on December 1.

China had 15,088 confirmed carriers of HIV by the end of September, but estimates that more than 400,000 people have been infected with the virus.

The World Health Organization and Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) have repeatedly warned that Asia might replace sub-Saharan Africa as the most AIDS-ridden area in the world.

"China is in a grave situation and the tasks ahead are very hard and complicated, due to an enormous number of drug users and people with multiple sex partners, plus over 100 million transient people each year, and commercial blood-sellers, who all are vulnerable to HIV/AIDS," Yin said.

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), which are described as " the shadow following HIV/AIDS," have been rapidly spreading across China in the 1990s.

The reported STD cases amounted to 570,000 in the January-September period of this year, almost equal to the annual figure of last year, the MOH said, fearing that the real number may be eight to ten times higher.

The national meeting, which was co-sponsored by the MOH and ministries in charge of public security, education and publicity, aimed to summarize the work of HIV/AIDS and STD control.

The work related to policy-making, education, and intervention measures targeting at high-risk people will be discussed during the two-day meeting.

More than 110 units and 480 individuals specializing in the field were awarded at the meeting in Beijing on December 1 for their outstanding contributions. (Xinhua)

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