China gets grant to stop AIDS among drug users

China will receive its first grant to prevent the spread of AIDS among drug users and prostitutes from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the Health Ministry officials said on Thursday.

Another grant for tuberculosis aims to increase detection and awareness of the infectious disease, transmitted by coughing and sneezing, especially in poor communities of China, a statement said.

The two-year grants, of $24 million and $28 million respectively, bring the total amount approved by the Geneva-based fund for China to $138.4 million, according to spokesman Jon Liden.

The grant for   HIV/AIDS targets intravenous drug users and sex workers in seven southern and western provinces (Yunnan, Xinjiang, Guangxi, Sichuan, Guizhou, Hunan and Jiangxi), which have “high rates of infection,” according to the Fund.

Human immunodeficiency virus infection Definition
HIV infection is a viral infection caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that gradually destroys the immune system, resulting in infections that are hard for the body to fight.

AIDS Definition
AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is the final and most serious stage of HIV disease, which causes severe damage to the immune system.

Malaria Definition
Malaria is a parasitic disease characterized by fever, chills, and anemia.

Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial infection that kills more than 2 million people a year. Most of these deaths occur in developing countries. The bacterium that usually causes TB in humans is Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

The provinces are home to 2.5 million to three million drug users, about half of the total nationwide. Between 20 to 30 percent of the drug users throughout the vast country are estimated to carry the HIV virus, the Fund said.

China, which was slow in acknowledging the AIDS epidemic, reported some 840,000 people living with HIV at the end of 2003.

But experts say at least one million poor farmers were infected in the central province of Henan alone as a result of botched blood-selling schemes in the early and mid 1990s.

China also has an estimated five million people with active tuberculosis, ranking second only to India worldwide, and records 150,000 deaths per year from it.

The Fund said Beijing had pledged to match the grants.

Provided by ArmMed Media
Revision date: July 7, 2011
Last revised: by Janet A. Staessen, MD, PhD