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Gates Foundation Commits to Expansion of HIV Prevention in China

Wednesday, November 14, 2007 General News J E 4
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SEATTLE, Nov. 13 The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundationannounced today that it will commit $50 million to work in partnership withthe Chinese government and non-governmental organizations to expand HIVprevention efforts in China. The funding will increase access to HIVprevention programs targeting those most vulnerable to infection, includinginjection drug users, sex workers, and men who have sex with men.

"By rapidly expanding access to effective HIV prevention, China has anopportunity to prevent a widespread HIV/AIDS epidemic," said Dr. Tachi Yamada,president of the Gates Foundation's Global Health Program. "China's leaderssay they are serious about fighting AIDS, and we're pleased to partner withthem on these efforts."

Although China's national HIV prevalence is low - less than 0.1% of thetotal population - infection rates are high among key risk groups. Forexample, HIV prevalence among injection drug users exceeds 50% in someprovinces, and in the past two years there have been substantial increases inHIV infection rates among men who have sex with men.

"To effectively fight HIV/AIDS, we must ensure that prevention programsreach those most likely to become infected and transmit the virus to others,"said Dr. Wu Zunyou, director of China's National Center for AIDS/STD Controland Prevention. "At the same time, we must combat the terrible stigma thatstill surrounds the disease in our country."

Stigma and discrimination against people with HIV remain major problems inChina. For example, a 2005 study by researchers in Yunnan province found thatnearly a third of doctors said they would refuse to treat an HIV-positiveperson.

The new Gates Foundation funding will support both government and non-governmental programs focused on the following:

Of the $50 million committed today, a $20 million grant will go to theChinese Ministry of Health. Decisions about specific programs to be supportedwith this grant will be made by the Office of the State Council AIDS Working

Committee. The remaining $30 million will be used to provide grants tolocal, national, and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

A small team of Gates Foundation staff in Beijing will administer thefunding announced today and provide technical advice and support to thegovernment and NGOs. The foundation's China office is led by Dr. Ray Yip, whowas formerly the country director of China for the U.S. Centers for DiseaseControl and Prevention.

Partnership Supports Priorities in China's AIDS Plan

The new funding comes as China begins implementing an ambitious five-yearplan to expand HIV/AIDS efforts. In recent years, estimated governmentspending on HIV/AIDS programs has increased substantially - from about $12.5million in 2002 to more than $150 million in 2007. In addition, the GlobalFund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria has committed approximately $180million to China for HIV prevention and treatment programs.

The Chinese government has made important progress in reaching key high-risk groups with HIV prevention services. For example, the government hasopened some 350 methadone maintenance clinics throughout the country.However, experts warn that far more remains to be done, especially to ensurethat ongoing HIV prevention programs reach all those in need with effectiveinterventions.

"I am very encouraged by the good progress that China is making inresponding to the AIDS epidemic," said UNAIDS Executive Director Dr. PeterPiot. "I am sure this valuable new commitment from the Gates Foundation, whichwill also assist civil society organizations, will lead to an even strongerresponse to HIV in China at all levels."

Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & MelindaGates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. Indeveloping countries,
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