With a stretched red AIDS ribbon pinned to his upper body, Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang warned of the grave situation of HIV/AIDS in China, calling it "not only a medical issue but also a social challenge." On the week of World AIDS Day, the man anticipated to replace Wen Jiabao as premier next year, publicly acknowledged the nation's challenges with the epidemic.
The disease shows no symptom of abating in the world's most populous country. AIDS related-deaths have increased by 8.6 percent to 17,740 deaths, compared with the previous year, according to the country's health figures. And 68,802 new HIV/AIDS cases were reported this year up to October, according to Chinese state media. But some HIV/AIDS advocates say the number of cases is underestimated, in part because many people who have HIV/AIDS may never have been tested to know their status. China has grappled with a checkered HIV history that includes a contaminated blood scandal in a central province and, in years past, denying that AIDS was a problem in the country. But recently, China's elite has appeared to champion HIV/AIDS causes. Peng Liyuan, the wife of China's presumptive next president, Xi Jinping is the World Health Organization's Goodwill Ambassador for Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. Li, who also heads a commission on the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS, met with health activists on Monday and vowed action. "Li is very friendly and decisive," said Li Hu, director of HaiHeZhiXing AIDS Volunteer Group, who met with the leader. "There are hopes that we can do a better job with leader's help." In statements published in state-run news media, the vice premier pledged greater support and tax breaks for HIV/AIDS organizations, an expansion of free drug treatment for people with the disease and protection of patients from discrimination at hospitals. HIV/AIDS is increasing deviously, and people need to be aware of what goes on in the world when pertaining to this disease. It needs to be notified by anyone and everyone in the world so that we can prevent this disease from rapidly spreading throughout the world.