China's Efforts Aimed At Fighting HIV/AIDS Discrimination

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China's efforts to fight HIV/AIDS-relateddiscrimination in the country are failing to prevent widespread stigmatizationof people living with the disease, United Nations officials said Wednesday, Reuters reports. The officials werespeaking at the launch of a United Nations Development Programme initiative, called "PositiveTalks," that will train 35 people living with HIV to participate in advocacy,prevention, care and awareness efforts at schools, businesses and hospitalsacross the country (Reuters, 11/28). UNDP earlier this year calledon China'scommercial media and private business sectors to increase their efforts tofight HIV/AIDS-related stigma and discrimination in the country.

Stigma and discrimination have been significant obstacles to universal accessto HIV prevention, treatment, care and support programs in China. A surveyconducted earlier this year at 12 Beijinguniversities considered to be some of the most progressive in the country foundthat nearly 25% of students would oppose having HIV-positive classmates. Thesurvey also found that 4% of respondents said people should be refused jobsbased on their HIV status (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/6).


Subinay Nandy, director of UNDP in China, said that the country hasdone a "tremendous job" in enacting legislation and policies toprevent HIV/AIDS discrimination but that enduring stigma still preventsHIV-positive people from seeking treatment. "We all will agree, widespreadstigmas and discrimination in all sections of societal life here in China aselsewhere still exist at a very high level," Nandy said, adding,"There is a stronger need than ever to reach the general public andhumanize the face of the HIV epidemic." UNAIDSCountry Director Bernhard Schwartlander said, "People who feel stigmatizedwill not come forward or dare to seek medical treatment and guidance, and bydoing so put further fuel on the fire for the spread of HIV."

According to Reuters, the number of new HIV cases in China has beenincreasing in recent months. Government data found that the number of new HIVcases on mainland Chinaincreased from an average of 3,000 monthly during the first six months of this yearto an average of 3,200 monthly from January to October (Reuters,11/28). About 220,000 people nationwide were living with HIV/AIDS at the end ofSeptember, and 25% of those had developed AIDS, according to Wang Ning, deputydirector of the Chinese Center for Disease Controland Prevention. UNAIDShas estimated that about 650,000 people in China are living with HIV/AIDS (KaiserDaily HIV/AIDS Report, 11/7).

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