Reuters NewMedia - February 29, 2012
BEIJING (Reuters) - China hopes to cap the number of people
living with HIV/AIDS at 1.2 million by 2015, up from around
780,000 at present, partly by promoting increased condom use, the
government said in an action plan released on Wednesday.
While praising achievements made over the past few years,
including improved life expectancy for AIDS patients, the State
Council, or cabinet, said China still faced a difficult task to
prevent the spread of the disease.
"The present spread of AIDS is still severe, there is widespread
discrimination in society, the virus is a serious (problem) in
some areas and amongst high-risk groups," it said in a statement
on the central government's website (www.gov.cn).
Sexually transmitted diseases are also on the rise, it added, a
particular concern as AIDS is now mostly spread in China through
"The situation is becoming more complex and prevention work is
extremely difficult," the statement added.
China hopes to tackle these issues partly through a large
increase in condom use, the government said.
By 2015, condoms or condom vending machines should be available
in 95 percent of hotels and other, unspecified, public areas, and
90 percent of high-risk groups should be using condoms, the
action plan states.
It did not provide comparative figures for current usage. The
term "high risk groups" usually refers to gay men, intravenous
drug users and others.
"By the end 2015, bring under basic control the rapid rise of the
AIDS virus in main areas and among main groups of people, and
reduce by 25 percent compared with 2010 the number of new
infections," the government said in its plan.
To deal with ignorance among local officials about the disease,
their knowledge of AIDS and ability to promote public education
will become part of annual performance reviews, the government
The government was slow to acknowledge the problem of HIV/AIDS in
the 1990s and had sought to cover it up when hundreds of
thousands of impoverished farmers in rural Henan province became
infected through botched blood-selling schemes.
Beijing has since stepped up the fight, spending more on
prevention programs, launching schemes to give universal access
to anti-retroviral drugs to contain the disease, and introducing
policies to curb discrimination.
But in a country where taboos surrounding sex remain strong and
discussion of the topic is largely limited, people with HIV/AIDS
say they are often stigmatized.