Beijing (AFP) Nov 27, 2009
UNAIDS said Friday it had launched a campaign to address rampant discrimination against people living with HIV in China, with the help of Chinese NBA megastar Yao Ming.
The campaign, launched with China's health ministry, will see posters and videos of Yao and his fans, including some with HIV, displayed on giant screens in 12 cities across China, the United Nations agency said in a statement.
People who are HIV positive in China experience high levels of stigma and discrimination.
According to a report by UNAIDS, a quarter of medical staff and over a third of government officials and teachers developed negative and discriminatory attitudes towards people living with HIV after learning their status.
More than 12 percent of people with HIV had also been refused medical care at least once since they tested positive, UNAIDS said in their China Stigma Index report emailed to AFP.
"These results really underscore the importance of ensuring health care professionals receive appropriate training to reduce stigma and discrimination and increase their ability to provide appropriate services to people living with HIV," UNAIDS executive director Michel Sidibe said in the statement.
The report was based on a survey of more than 2,000 people living with HIV in China and is the first of its kind in the Asian nation.
It also found that more than 34 percent of those of working age had stopped working as a result of being HIV positive and over 55 percent had chosen not to attend social gatherings or had isolated themselves from family and friends.
"Building understanding and care from society as a whole for people living with HIV, together with eliminating discrimination, are key elements of the AIDS response," Huang Jiefu, China's vice minister of health, said in the statement.
The campaign will also see more than 30,000 posters distributed across China, the statement said.
China's health ministry estimates that at the end of 2009, 740,000 people were living with HIV in the country, and according to the latest data, 48,000 were infected this year, according to UNAIDS.
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