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UN official lauds China’s AIDS response but says more work remains

UN official lauds China’s AIDS response but says more work remains

UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé with Chung To, Director of Chi Heng Foundation
The head of the United Nations agency dealing with HIV and AIDS has commended China for its strong commitment and action in responding to the epidemic, while noting that more work remains to be done to strengthen the country’s response.

Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (known as UNAIDS) noted some of China’s achievements in recent decades during a meeting on Wednesday with top Government leaders in Beijing.

He said efforts toward poverty reduction, expanding access to education, and reducing mortality and extending life expectancy have been truly “astonishing,” according to a news release issued by the agency.

“China’s progress has strongly demonstrated the commitment of the Chinese Government to delivering on human development and its MDG commitments,” said Mr Sidibé, referring to the anti-poverty targets world leaders have pledged to achieve by 2015, known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

“However, there is still work to be done, and significant scaling-up of quality HIV treatment and prevention efforts will be necessary if MDG 6 (halting and reversing the HIV epidemic) is to be achieved in China,” he added.

The Executive Director urged the Chinese Government to set targets to halve HIV infections and deaths from AIDS by 2015, in order to meet and exceed MDG 6, and halt and reverse China’s HIV epidemic.

In April, Mr. Sidibé and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hailed the decision by the Chinese Government to lift the country’s travel ban for people living with HIV, calling the move another example of the country’s leadership in the AIDS response.

UNAIDS, which strongly opposes any laws that restrict movement based on HIV-positive status only, stressed that such restrictions are discriminatory and do not prevent HIV transmission or protect public health.