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Yunnan makes strides in ending disease

Updated: Dec 2, 2021 China Daily Print
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Southwest China's Yunnan province, once afflicted by HIV/AIDS, is gearing up to achieve the next significant milestone toward ending the epidemic through consolidated efforts in ramping up health education, testing and treatment, health officials said on Wednesday.

Last year, the province had reached the initial targets set by the United Nations, which is to ensure that 90 percent of people with HIV know about their status; 90 percent of those who are diagnosed with HIV are receiving treatment; and 90 percent of those undergoing therapy have a negligible risk of transmitting the virus sexually, also known as being virally suppressed.

Lu Lin, deputy director of the provincial health commission, said that at the center of the success is putting great emphasis on controlling the virus, strengthening legal backing and building a comprehensive diagnosis and treatment network.

"From 2005 to last year, we have launched four rounds of intense campaigns to tackle the virus, mobilizing different sectors of the government as well as the whole society," he said. "The intensity of our efforts is unparalleled."

The province also rolled out its first regulation devoted to dealing with the virus in 2005 and made revisions based on the latest circumstances last year, such as promoting voluntary testing, stepping up management efforts along its long border as well as community-based control work, according to Lu.

In addition, he said the province has focused on boosting testing, diagnosis and treatment capabilities at grassroots-level medical institutions.

All county-level regions in Yunnan are now able to provide diagnosis services for HIV/AIDS, according to local health authorities.

Jia Manhong, an official at the provincial disease prevention and control center, said that due to Yunnan's mountainous terrain, it used to take a long time for grassroots clinics to send samples to larger laboratories for testing and confirmation.

"That's why we have adopted a rapid testing method that also complies with domestic and international standards to speed up return of results," she said, adding that there are now 347 testing laboratories across all of its 129 counties.

She added that the provincial CDC is constantly providing training to primary health workers and conducting inspections to ensure the quality of their tests.

As the province is aiming to achieve the target of lifting the three key barometers-percentages of people knowing about their HIV status, receiving treatment and being virally suppressed-to above 95 percent by 2025, Jia said that even wider testing will be offered.

Lu, the provincial health official, added that Yunnan is considering integrating HIV testing into regular health checkups or COVID-19 nucleic acid screening programs, so that more undetected people can be identified and be put on proper treatment.

Meanwhile, he said more awareness campaigns will be rolled out targeting high-risk groups.

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