China Should Provide Country's 140,000 AIDS Orphans With HIV/AIDS Information

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There are an estimated 140,000 children in China who have lost one orboth parents to AIDS-related illnesses, according to figures releasedSunday by UNICEF China, the South China Morning Postreports. The organization also called on China to increase financialassistance provided to AIDS orphans in the country, according to the Morning Post.Ken Legins, chief of HIV/AIDS for UNICEF China, said the figures areunofficial and were gathered with the help of institutions in thecountry.

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Official figures provided by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Preventionin 2005 showed that 76,000 children in China had lost at least oneparent to AIDS-related illnesses and that the number was expected torise to 260,000 by 2010. Zhang Lei, a consultant for UNICEF, said thereare about 500,000 children in China who have been orphaned by thedisease, are HIV-positive or are living in households with at least oneHIV-positive parent.

Official government figures show thatabout 8,000 AIDS orphans in China receive some type of governmentassistance. Legins called on the government to provide information tochildren, such as educating them about HIV/AIDS and prevention methods.The agency also is encouraging communities to care for childrenaffected by AIDS rather than placing them in orphanages.

It isimportant to "go talk to the kids and try to figure out how you need toprovide the services, skills and information to them," Legins said. Hesaid one of the primary reasons communities refuse to care for childrenorphaned by AIDS is because "they don't have the correct informationabout how [HIV] is transmitted," adding, "You need to educate thecommunity." According to Chung To -- founder of Hong Kong's Chi Heng Foundation,which has assisted children affected by HIV/AIDS in several mainlandprovinces -- the central Chinese government is "more supportive" ofHIV/AIDS prevention efforts, but "local governments are not veryconsistent" (Savadove, South China Morning Post, 7/9).
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