Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has helped in the recovery of at least 17,000 HIV carriers and AIDS patients in China since 2004, claim experts.
Speaking on the eve of World AIDS Day, which is observed on December 1, Wang Jian, deputy director of the TCM Center for AIDS Prevention and Treatment with the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine, said: "TCM performs as an effective supplement to Western therapy in terms of alleviating patients' symptoms, including fever, cough, asthenia and diarrhea, thus making life easier for them."
According to the China Daily, China started to give AIDS patients free TCM therapy in a pilot project carried out among 2,300 patients in five provinces in 2004.
By last October, the projects had expanded to 19 provinces.
The TCM therapy is usually applied to carriers whose immune system is not too weak to receive the Western medication that is largely known as antiretroviral therapy; or to patients who suffer side effects from the therapies.
A biological indicator for this is CD4, a type of cell in the immune system. When a carrier's CD4 count reaches 350 per cubic millimeter or below they will need western treatment.
According to Wang Jian, Chinese herbal medicines work differently from Western anti-HIV drugs. The Western therapies target blocking viral replication, but TCM therapy works towards increasing people's immunity.
Wang said that Chinese government has allocated 220 million Yuan (34.49 million dollars) for TCM therapy research, and further efforts will be made to develop better treatment based on a combination of TCM and Western medicine.
By the end of 2011, China is estimated to have 780,000 people living with HIV/AIDS, including 154,000 patients with full-blown afflictions, official statistics show.