Today is World AIDS Day, and the theme this year is “Getting to Zero” (zero infections, zero discrimination, zero AIDS-related deaths). HIV and AIDS is not perceived as an epidemic in China, but the number of cases has been rising in recent years. News outlets are running a variety of stories bringing statistics and anecdotes from around China and we’ve collected them here for your perusal:
China will have 780,000 people living with AIDS/HIV by the end of the year, with most unaware they are infected. China currently has 346,000 registered HIV/AIDS patients. Those living with the disease are often ostracized by their community and their government, as anyone who has HIV is banned from working in the civil service.
Many who have HIV/AIDS are fighting back, however. A young man who was denied a job at an Anhui high school due to being HIV positive filed a lawsuit against the Education Bureau last year in a landmark case. Though the case was thrown out, a growing number of those living with HIV/AIDS are becoming increasingly vocal in demanding equal employment rights.
Many AIDS patients also protested yesterday outside of the Ministry of Finance building in Beijing, asking for government funding to help children. In 2009, the Ministry of Public Health and Finance promised financial assistance of up to 600RMB per month to children afflicted with HIV/AIDS, but many have not received any money due to bureaucratic red tape. Many of the children were infected in the late 90s and early ’00s before the government cracked down on contaminated blood transfusions.
In Shanghai, the majority of new reported cases of HIV/AIDS come from men who have had unprotected sex. Most of the men are from out of town, and are aged 25-44, though the number of old people afflicted with HIV/AIDS has been rising as well. Shanghai registered 1,294 new HIV cases, and 509 AIDS cases this year. Half of those cases were homosexual men.
In Yunnan, a woman widowed by AIDS and living with the virus herself has set up a non-governmental organization to help those who are living with HIV/AIDS. The organization is called Ruili Red Ribbon Home, and since 2006 has assisted over 900 people through consultations, psychological support, medicine distribution, group activities and hospital visits.
Yunnan province has 93,567 people living with HIV/AIDS, and 10,000 of those were added this year alone. In the past year, 14,340 lives were lost to AIDS in Yunnan province alone.
Sharing (prevention methods) is caring
UNAIDS reports that China’s HIV/AIDS related deaths have been reduced by 60% in the past eight years, but still has a long way to go in sharing its method of reduction with the rest of the world – particularly Africa.
One method of reduction might be found in Traditional Chinese Medicine, which has helped 17,000 HIV/AIDS patients since 2004. Traditional Chinese Medicine is apparently more gentle on the immune system than Western medicine, and helps make patients life easier by reducing symptoms.
Read more about World AIDS Day or donate money to finding the cure by visiting their official website.