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Stigma key barrier to HIV/AIDS prevention in China: UNICEF official
BEIJING, Nov. 29 (Xinhua,By Zhao Xiaohui ) -- Stigma and discrimination
form the main barrier to China's HIV/AIDS prevention, said a UNICEF
health official here Saturday.
Overcoming stigma and discrimination is crucial to China winning the war
against AIDS, said Koen Vanormelingen, chief of the Health and Nutrition
Section of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Office for China.
China and in the rest of Asia, social and cultural discrimination
prevents people from wanting to know more about AIDS, and makes it
especially hard to stop the spread of the disease.
recent investigation by Horizon Market Research, a leading survey
company in China, shows that nearly 19 percent of Chinese people have
never heard of AIDS, almost the highest percentage in the world. In some
regions of central China's Henan Province, where unsanitary blood sales
have caused a serious increase in HIVinfection, the local people do not
even know the term AIDS, and just call it a "mysterious disease."
addition, for many people, HIV/AIDS is considered a disgraceful
condition. Those infected with HIV are usually considered morally bad,
and are therefore despised by others.
Stigma and discrimination are also very dangerous in that they may push
the HIV-affected group to criminality and other behavior which
destabilizes society, said Vanormelingen.
local HIV worker in Henan was shocked by the hatred of one boy she met.
" I will kill that blood trader when I grow up!" he had said. The boy's
father had been infected with HIV years ago when he sold blood.
HIV/AIDS is not only a health issue, but a social one. The removal of
the stigma attached to it needs the efforts of the whole of society,
especially the government and senior leaders, said Vanormelingen.
Though the Chinese central government is making good progress towards
HIV/AIDS prevention and care, some local officials and thepublic still
need to pay more attention to the issue, said Vanormelingen.
his trips around China, Vanormelingen has met many local officials who
still feel the problem is some distance away, when it is actually on
China reportedly now has 840,000 HIV carriers, including 80,000 AIDS
still need more attention to be paid to this issue, as wellas more
commitment from the government in order to win the fight against
HIV/AIDS," said Vanormelingen. Enditem