China steps up fight against AIDS with UK support

Gareth Thomas, International Development Minister, today announced £30 million over four and a half years to help the Government of China’s national HIV and AIDS programme contain the number of people living with HIV and AIDS to 1.5 million by 2010.

The new funding, part of a £92 million programme supported by the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and malaria, will be aimed at the most vulnerable groups such as sex workers, injecting drug users, women and children in 112 counties in China, who face discrimination and the stigma of living with AIDS in their communities.

The funding will also deliver condom promotion, diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted infections, prevention of mother to child transmission and voluntary counselling and testing which respects human rights.

Gareth Thomas said:

“We have a window of opportunity now to stop a full blown Aids epidemic in China. We want to increase our support to the Chinese government in their fight against HIV and AIDS

“With one fifth of the world’s population and rapid economic growth and urbanisation, China faces a serious challenge in reducing its growing number of people living with HIV and AIDS.”

The UK is largest bilateral donor on HIV and AIDS in China. The UK’s new funding is an extension and improvement of the national AIDS programme which DFID has supported since 2002. Activities the fund will support include:

development of local plans on HIV and AIDS linked to the local government’s economic development plan for 50 counties, with a total population of 28 million;
contracting 70 civil society organizations to implement activities in target counties;
45,900 female sex workers and their clients receiving intervention services;
159,700 injecting drug users receiving prevention services;
208,660 people with high risk behaviours will receiving voluntary counselling and testing services; and
6,000 people with advanced HIV infection will receiving ARV combination therapy.

HIV and AIDS infections rates are expected to increase dramatically in China with a growing number of drug users and sex workers and increasing internal migration. In recent years the Government of China has launched new policies on HIV and AIDS and introduced new legislation on prevention, treatment, care and support including anti-stigma and discrimination. Domestic funding for tackling HIV and AIDS has increased from £32 million in 2003 to £72 million in 2005. This is however still short of the estimated annual need of £220-400 million for an effective response.

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