The Red Cross Society of China on Friday launched its first ever nationwide HIV programme with the aim of reaching all 31 provinces and municipalities in the country by 2010.
The organisation, which first got involved in HIV work in 1994 in the southwestern province of Yunnan, said it aimed to upscale its HIV prevention work across the country over the next three years.
AdvertisementIn 2007, just 22 out of 31 provinces had undertaken or were undertaking HIV projects, the organisation said.
It plans to prevent further infection through peer education and the spread of information, to expand care and support for those affected by HIV, and to reduce the stigma and discrimination associated with the disease.
An estimated 700,000 people in China are currently living with HIV, according to information compiled by the government and the United Nations.
Last year, an estimated 50,000 people became newly infected with the virus, and an estimated 20,000 people died of AIDS, the Red Cross Society of China said.
But the overall numbers may be considerably higher as many HIV cases still go unreported, and testing is not widespread, according to the organisation.
The Chinese government has in recent years stepped up its campaign against AIDS.
In February, authorities launched their first anti-AIDS programme focused on gay men.
At the same time, though, one of the nation's most prominent AIDS campaigners, Hu Jia, is on trial for incitement to subvert state power.
A verdict on the case is expected soon.