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HIV/AIDS testing, counseling to expand

China is set to substantially expand HIV/AIDS counseling and testing services in the next five years to strive for early detection and treatment for sufferers, vowed Vice-Premier Li Keqiang.

In the first 10 months of this year, China conducted nearly 67 million HIV tests on the mainland, up 16 percent compared with the same period last year, latest statistics from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention showed. In 2009, the total figure was 55 million.

In five years, voluntary and free testing would reach all county-level and above hospitals, as well as grassroots clinics in high-prevalence regions, said Li while presiding over the plenary meeting of the State Council AIDS Working Committee on Friday.

To achieve that, "the governments should provide HIV/AIDS-related civil societies with financial and other supports so as to bring their unique roles in HIV prevention and control into full play," he said.

That was so far the highest-level commitment made by the Chinese government in supporting civil societies committed to HIV/AIDS intervention.

Currently, such organizations work with money mainly from overseas, admitted Wu Zunyou, director of the National Center for AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Diseases Control and Prevention.

"The central government is making arrangements to correct that situation, as their important role was fully recognized - especially in reaching out to sufferers," he told China Daily on Monday.

At the end of 2009, China had 740,000 AIDS/HIV sufferers