BEIJING, July 17 (Xinhua) -- The Joint United Nations
Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) has honored Chinese Vice Minister of Health Wang
Longde and Qingdao University Professor Zhang Beichuan for their outstanding
contribution to fighting AIDS.
"I'm honored to present awards to two pioneers, who
have been at the forefront of the AIDS response in the country and who have
encouraged others to follow," said UNAIDS executive director Peter Piot.
Responsible for anti-AIDS work since 2004, Wang has
been instrumental in making AIDS a priority for the Chinese government. He has
placed particular emphasis on ensuring a multi-sector approach to AIDS and
encouraging a range of organizations to join the effort.
Zhang has undertaken ground-breaking work in raising
HIV awareness among homosexual men, breaking down the stigma and discrimination
against people at high risk of HIV infection and developing focused HIV
China had 183,733 officially reported HIV/AIDS cases
in 2006, but experts from the ministry estimated there were more likely 650,000
people living with HIV/AIDS in China.
Statistics show that, compared with 2003, the death
rate of China's AIDS patients has dropped 50 percent.
"I am confident that China can continue scaling up
its response to AIDS, focusing programs to reach the people that need them
most," said Piot. "We look forward to supporting China in its response to AIDS
and working together with China in expanding the global response to AIDS."
Wang said the ministry would publish the result of
the country's latest survey on AIDS epidemiology in the year end.
The award was part of a week-long visit to China by
Piot to learn more about the country's anti-AIDS work.