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China Vows to Protect Migrant Workers Against HIV/AIDS

China is going to launch a nationwide publicity campaign among its 120 million migrant workers to raise their awareness of HIV/AIDS and take measures to protect themselves.

The State Council, the Ministry of Health and several other government departments on Tuesday jointly initiated a program which is to start in December aiming to ensure that 65 percent of migrant workers have access to HIV/AIDS knowledge by the end of 2006 and 85 percent by the end of 2010.

China has had 120 million rural laborers working in urban areas, and a large number of surplus rural labor force will flow into cities and towns. Most of them are sexually-active and some of them are prone to drug addiction in some areas, but they have a poor understanding of communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS.

Under the program, governments at all levels are required to allocate sufficient funds to publicity of knowledge about HIV/AIDS, while strengthening coordination and supervision for the smooth proceeding of the program.

Vice Health Minister Wang Longde said Monday that migrant workers should be regarded as an HIV/AIDS high-risk group and the government should pay more attention to them.

He criticized many local governments for providing HIV/AIDS prevention services only to people with residential registration.

By the end of September, China had had 135,630 reported cases of HIV infection, according to the latest figures released by the Ministry of Health, but the number is estimated at 840,000.

(Xinhua News Agency November 30, 2005)

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