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China's HIV/AIDS policies need to be fully implemented at all levels: researcher

11-30-2011 16:49 BJT Special Report:World AIDS Day 2011 |

NEW YORK, Nov. 18 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese government should provide more resources and sufficient funding to local authorities in order for them to fully implement HIV/AIDS policies, a world renowned researcher said Thursday.

"China's central government policies on HIV/AIDS are quite good. They are really all going into the right direction. But the problem is how to enforce these policies effectively in local regions," Dr. David D. Ho, director of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center (ADARC), told Xinhua.

He said it is urgent for China to carry out the HIV/AIDS policies throughout the entire country at all levels, from provinces to counties, from townships to villages, otherwise, policy is just an empty statement.

"From policies to implementation, there is a gap, a long gap in some circumstances. So policies need to be backed up with sufficient resources, and need to be enforced, or, policies will have no strength," he said.

Founded in 1991, ADARC was one of the first research centers dedicated solely to the study of AIDS. In the 1990s, Ho and ADARC established themselves as leaders in the study of AIDS by using antiretroviral cocktails which have reduced the mortality rate from AIDS.

Dr. Ho started his project of preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV in China's Yunnan province in November 2005 in collaboration with the local government.

The past five years have witnessed the drop of transmission rate to less than 2 percent among the babies delivered by more than 400 HIV-infected pregnant women enrolled in the project.

During his research in rural areas in China, Ho found that some local areas are in great need of resources and funding in combating HIV/AIDS and the policies from the central government can hardly be enforced.

"The local government needs to be provided with appropriate funding, because the local people cannot do it without money. Even though the central government has policies of 'free test and free drugs,' because the local government does not have enough money, still, local patients cannot benefit from the policy," he said.

Dr. Ho noted that China now has two distinct epidemic regions. One is the southwest area around Yunnan province, including Sichuan and Guangxi provinces. The AIDS cases in this region are mainly caused by drug use.

The other one is the central region, with the core in Henan province, and expands to the adjacent provinces like Hubei, Anhui, Shandong. This area's AIDS epidemic is even worse, where most cases are triggered by the unsanitary practices used in the process of blood donation by poor farmers.

According to Ho, new cases of AIDS are increasing at a rate of 20 percent per year among major cities in eastern and southwestern areas such as Chengdu and Guiyang, the provincial capitals of Sichuan and Guizhou respectively. These data suggest that it is time for the central government to take further measures to strengthen the prevention of HIV/AIDS.

"I have greatest faith in China's top leaders. They are knowledgable and enlightened. But the government really needs to focus more attention on enforcing the policies at all levels and get them fully implemented," he said.

Editor:Zhang Hao |Source: Xinhua

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