BEIJING, Nov. 30 (Xinhua) -- China has made "fantastic progress" combating HIV/AIDS in recent years, according to a senior UN official in the country.
"Over the last eight years, there has been a reduction in mortality due to AIDS of about 60 percent," said Mark Stirling, UN Country Coordinator for AIDS in China, who emphasized the progress was "fantastic."
Stirling said about 60 million people were tested for HIV last year in China and roughly half the people in China who need antiretroviral therapy now get it.
By 2015, China plans to reduce AIDS deaths by 30 percent and reduce new infections by 25 percent. To achieve these goals, Stirling said China needs to double its HIV testing rate and increase its antiretroviral therapy rate to 80 percent.
"What we need to do is to use World AIDS Day 2011 to say the countdown has begun. Every day between now and the end of 2015 must show progress towards the achievement of those wonderful targets," he said.
DISCRIMINATION IS OBSTACLE
By 2015, China also plans to eliminate discrimination against those with HIV/AIDS.
According to Stirling, discrimination is a "major block" to controlling HIV/AIDS. He said when people do not feel comfortable about getting an HIV test or don't feel confident about getting treatment,the epidemic remains hidden. He said the hidden nature of the epidemic means it will flourish.
"I think this is really a challenge for the next couple of years."
Stirling said the Chinese government should reconsider its ban against people with HIV/AIDS working in the civil service. He said people who have HIV should have the right to be a teacher, radio or TV personality, or work in any area of the economy or government.
In addition, he said people in China should be educated more about HIV/AIDS so they can be more understanding and supportive of people living with the disease.