China will offer free antiretroviral therapy (ART) for all of its citizens living with HIV/AIDS, according to the country’s top health authority.
The move is good news for the estimated 575,000 people who live with HIV/AIDS in China, and should help to stop the spread of the disease among urban youths.
Prior to this wonderful news, only patients with a low level of immunity have had the privilege to undergo antiviral therapy since a low level of immunity might pose a severe threat to health, including life-threatening infections, China Daily reported.
The National Health and Family Planning Commission announced on Wednesday that all those with HIV/AIDS will be recommended to undergo antiviral therapy under China’s new guidelines, stressing that patients would have to present themselves on a voluntary basis and be prepared to commit to lifelong treatment.
Wu Hao, director of the Department of Infectious Diseases at You An Hospital in Beijing, welcomed the initiative. “It helps with better treatment outcomes for the sufferer and for public health as well,” he said.
Bao Yugang, deputy Asia bureau chief of United States-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, said that good drug compliance would be crucial for not only ensuring efficacy, but also for preventing drug resistance.
With the announcement, China joins countries like Australia and the US where the strategy of early treatment of those infected has already been implemented.
By Katie Ngai
[Images via Asia One // Gay News Network]