China / Society

China's anti-AIDS efforts 'impressive'

(Xinhua) Updated: 2012-11-29 15:03

BEIJING - A United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) official has praised China's work over the last two decades in raising awareness of HIV/AIDS prevention and care among AIDS-affected families and their children.

Gillian Mellsop, UNICEF's China representative, said in an interview with Xinhua that there has been tremendous progress in the last 20 years in how the government and people have been supporting those affected by HIV/AIDS, their families and children, and in raising awareness about prevention of HIV/AIDS.

Progress has also been made in providing programs that are needed for families and for people affected by HIV and their children, so that "they can continue to live a life where they can reach their full potential," according to Mellsop.

UNICEF is very impressed with the engagement at both grass-roots and high levels, involving both the premier and the president, she said.

In particular, Mellsop said she was pleased to see the programs targeting prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission, in which UNICEF is "very much engaged."

"China is moving toward complete elimination of transmission of HIV between mother and child, but there are still challenges ahead," she said.

There is still a lot of social stigma against people affected by HIV/AIDS, she warned, adding that more emphasis should be put on "ensuring that young people are aware of how to prevent transmission of HIV."

However, she added that "great strides have been seen in the provision of services for people affected by HIV."

On Monday, Mellsop was invited to a meeting, chaired by Vice Premier Li Keqiang, with people infected with HIV, anti-AIDS volunteers, members of non-governmental organizations and representatives of international organizations.

Li, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, heads a State Council commission on the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS.

"It was a real pleasure to meet with Li and to have the opportunity to participate in his discussions with civil society groups," Mellsop said.

"Li listened very attentively to their concerns and came up with actions to address these concerns. His committed leadership in raising awareness about the challenges faced by families affected by HIV/AIDS is very impressive.

"We highly appreciate the Chinese government's continuous support for HIV/AIDS prevention and care, especially for children affected by HIV/AIDS and their families," she said.

She felt "really impressed" by the commitment of government at the very highest level to implementing programs to ensure people living with HIV/AIDS can access cares and services.

Mellsop mentioned Li's "pragmatic approach to discussing issues with civil society groups to seek better ways to support people affected by HIV/AIDS."

She said it was "very heartening to see an open discussion between civil society groups representing the needs and calls for attention to programming around HIV/AIDS."

She was also impressed by the vice premier's "awareness of the issues and his decisive actions on how programs can be improved to address the issues that civil society groups raised."

Mellsop said, "It is very important that all of us treat people who have HIV/AIDS as friends, as we treat any member of our families. They are very dear members of our society.

"We need to be very inclusive and hug them, shake hands with them in exactly the same way as we would with any other member of our families or with a friend."

UNICEF was the first international organization to jointly conduct anti-AIDS programs with the Chinese government.

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