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Epidemic and Response


A Overview of HIV/AIDS Related Policy in China

Source: CHAIN

In the past several years the Chinese government has initiated significant policy changes to increase efforts at controlling the spread of HIV/AIDS. While challenges to this mission remain, the government has demonstrated, through the creation of new policies as well as the increase in funds, that fighting HIV/AIDS is a top national priority.

In 2004 important policy initiatives were created to continue the fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS. A new State Council AIDS Working Committee was established in February of 2004 as a separate entity within the Ministry of Health. The Committee, under the leadership of Vice Premier Wu Yi, was formed to develop strategies for containing HIV/AIDS and coordinate the national response in the areas of prevention, treatment, care and support. The Committee also includes many diverse organizations dedicated to working with the central government towards controlling the spread of HIV/AIDS, signaling on new effort by the government to cooperate with a wide range of groups and experts. While every province and autonomous region has an AIDS Working Committee to coordinate the regional response, the formation of this national committee is a firm step towards ensuring that policy decisions at the top reach all citizens.

A major achievement of the State Council AIDS Working Committee was the creation of the China CARES policy. The goal of this program is to integrate a comprehensive and partially community based response strategy in the areas of health education, treatment and care among others. There are currently 51 China CARES pilot sites where a wide range of services, from community home based treatment to programs to decrease stigmatization, are underway. In 2004 the China CARES received a grant of 32 million dollars from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The purpose of this grant is to expand the reach of the China CARES program so that more people can benefit from free antiretrovirals offered by the government, receive free counseling, HIV testing and education. Included in this grant are activities in management and capacity building to help the Chinese government best maximize resources.

Under the China CARES program a set of guidelines for fighting in HIV/AIDS in China was created. The Four Frees and One Care Policy, announced by the government in December of 2003, is an ambitious policy initiative to treat people already infected with HIV/AIDS, prevent HIV/AIDS from spreading from HIV positive mothers to unborn children, to provide financial assistance to the household of people infected with HIV/AIDS, and to provide free education for AIDS orphans. The cornerstone of this policy, the distribution of free anti-retroviral drugs to rural and urban AIDS patients not covered by basic medical insurance, has effectively become the foundation of China's treatment strategy.

Another important step taken by the new State Council AIDS Working Committee was the commitment to do a mid-term evaluation of the progress made by China's Medium-and Long-Term Programme for the Prevention and Control of AIDS (1998-2910), along with the 5-year Action Plan to Control HIV/AIDS (2001-2005). By agreeing to undertake evaluations of these programs national leaders are demonstrating their commitment to creating strong and effective policy to address the AIDS problem in China.

The announcement on World AIDS Day of this new policy was followed by visits to AIDS stricken villages by senior government officials. These visits, combined with Premier Wen Jiabao's trip to see AIDS patients at a Beijing hospital, underlined the government's commitment to caring for AIDS patients, as well as spearheading a national effort towards the destigmatization of people with AIDS. Many public campaigns on AIDS awareness and education were initiated in 2004 in an increased effort to bring the general population into the fight against HIV/AIDS, and in that, helping to ease the stigmatization of AIDS patients. These campaigns include a wide range of citizens, groups and activities, from non-profit HIV/AIDS advertisements going up in train and bus stations, to events at workplaces and with youth leagues.