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2005-06-18-Chinese City Implementing Central Government Recommendations To Fight HIV/AIDS
Gejiu, a city of 310,000 people in China's Yunnan province, is beginning to implement the central government's new recommendations for fighting HIV/AIDS in the country, including providing clean needles to injection drug users and making condoms available in hotel rooms, the... New York Times reports.
Chinese leaders over the past 18 months have made combating HIV/AIDS a national priority, a shift in attitude that UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot attributes to the 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, when the government realized that infectious diseases could not only endanger health but also pose a political threat.
"Nothing did as much as the fear that SARS instilled in terms of the potential for destabilizing society," Piot, who visited Yunnan province earlier this month, said. Although experts agree that China's response to the epidemic is more aggressive than efforts in India or Russia, many challenges remain, especially because Gejiu sits on a drug trafficking route.
However, the province is moving ahead with its plans of starting needle-exchange, condom promotion and prevention education programs, as well as increased testing and counseling. "The whole society is involved," Tong Waiyuan, a vice mayor, said (Yardley, New York Times, 6/16).