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China's AIDS control experience can be shared

Xinhua

BEIJING - China's efforts to fight AIDS are impressive and its experience can be shared, according to Michel Sidibe, executive director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

"We have seen progress in terms of new infections. The number of people going into treatment is increasing and the mortality rate is going down very quickly in China," Sidibe said during an interview with Xinhua on Wednesday.

Sidibe said he was impressed by the country's political leadership and commitment to controlling AIDS.

According to UNAIDS, the country has reported a 60-percent reduction in deaths due to AIDS over the past eight years.

New HIV infection cases in China have been reduced from 70,000 people annually in 2005 to around 48,000 in 2011, according to the country's health department.

"However, China's success will not only be measured by what it has done for the Chinese people," Sidibe said.

China has successful experience in reducing new HIV infections among intravenous drug users, which can be shared with the rest of the world, particularly east Europe and south Asia where HIV infections among drug abusers is a major challenge, he said.

Sidibe suggested that the country should work with the rest of the developing world, particularly Africa, in fighting AIDS.

A partnership between China and Africa will make a "big, big difference" in reducing AIDS mortality rates and introducing new technology and perspectives in Africa, said the official who had worked for UN in several African countries for more than two decades.

Admitting the challenges of funding AIDS control programs during the current global economic downturn, Sidibe called for global solidarity and increasing shared responsibilities among countries.

"It is a critical moment now. It is not a time to stop investment but to redouble our efforts, to make sure that we will continue to make progress in the fight against HIV," Sidibe said.

"Getting to Zero" has been chosen as the main theme of World AIDS Day for the next five years, referring to UNAIDS' vision of "zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths."

Sidibe met with Li Congjun, president of the Xinhua News Agency, on Wednesday before the interview. The agency has launched a global media campaign in cooperation with UNAIDS to raise public awareness about HIV/AIDS.

"The partnership (with Xinhua) is not only about writing news about HIV. It is about helping people to change their attitude and make decisions to help protect themselves," Sidibe said.