A medical worker (R) hands out AIDS prevention brochures during an AIDS awareness campaign held on the occasion of World AIDS Day at Haidian Hospital in Beijing, capital of China, Dec. 1, 2020. (Xinhua/Ren Chao)
BEIJING, Dec. 2 (Xinhua) -- After a follow-up visit to a hospital, Xiaoqin (a pseudonym) and her husband went to fetch their kid from school, greeting the happy, healthy child with a radiant smile.
The couple, both HIV positives, hails from the rural part of east China's Jiangxi. They would not dare to imagine a moment like this eight years ago when Xiaoqin tested positive for HIV during her seventh month of pregnancy.
It was Hu Minhua, a doctor with over 20 years of experience in treating HIV/AIDS patients, who managed to persuade Xiaoqin and her husband to keep the baby and stand up to face the disease.
Like many of Hu's patients, the couple's treatment proved effective.
"They enjoy free medication and testing. Now they have to visit me only once every three months, and their HIV viral load is below a specific level," said Hu.
Facing the global health challenge of HIV/AIDS, China has adopted a series of policies at both the national and local levels.
In 2003, China rolled out a key policy of "four frees, one care" in HIV/AIDS prevention and control, which include -- free HIV testing, free counseling and treatment for HIV carriers in rural areas, free medication for all HIV positives who are pregnant, and free awareness training for children orphaned by AIDS, as well as assistance for poverty-stricken patients in order to curb AIDS-related discrimination.
Xiaoqin, as a Jiangxi resident, is a beneficiary of the province's HIV/AIDS-targeted policies.
According to Jiangxi Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the province spends 30 million yuan (4.71 million U.S dollars) annually in providing free testing, free health examination, free clinical follow-up and subsidies for treatment to people with opportunistic infections linked to HIV living in hardship.
Zhang Zhenjiang, a community caregiver from east China's Anhui Province, believes that these policies have helped people living with the virus obtain a basic standard of living in the society.
"The monthly subsidy for HIV patients has increased from 50 yuan to 350 yuan. With living allowances for the poor and other subsidies from local government and organizations, they can make ends meet," said Zhang, who has spent 27 years taking care of HIV patients in Liuran Village, where some villagers had contracted the virus through illegal blood transfusions in the 1990s.
Zhang added that instead of going to the county seat for free examinations every time, HIV carriers in Liuran Village can now get tested by staff dispatched by the county-level disease control and prevention center in their town. "It is much more convenient for them."
With years of effort, China has achieved remarkable progress in the fight against the virus. The country has been able to check HIV transmission through blood transfusion and saw mother-to-child transmission reaching an all-time low during the period from 2016 to 2020.
More than 90 percent of AIDS patients have received medical attention and the overall HIV/AIDS epidemic situation has remained at a low level.
China has continued to attach great importance to HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness among young people and has promulgated a spate of laws and policies to incorporate relevant information into compulsory education.
The Chinese government Tuesday stressed putting life first in the country's work to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS, ahead of the 34th World AIDS Day, which falls on Dec. 1.
On the basis of efficacious prevention and treatment, improving the life quality and dignity of HIV patients has become a key issue that demands more effort.
The generous and benevolent acts of welfare workers from various social organizations constitute a major part of the undertaking.
Thanks to the efforts of the AIDS Orphan Salvation Association in Fuyang, Anhui Province, many children living with HIV are able to live a normal life from going to colleges to having families.
Zhang Ying, the association's director, said that some people she had tended before are now willing to take part in social work to help other HIV positives. "They have embraced the society with a sense of gratitude in their hearts," Zhang said.
However, the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic has made the work of welfare workers more challenging.
Yang Yunlan, with 15 years of experience in anti-HIV work in Ruili of southwest China's Yunnan Province, checks on HIV patients to make sure they take medicine on time, and that they are mentally stable.
After the COVID-19 outbreak, she has been responsible for delivering medication at the doorstep of HIV patients in quarantine and mailing medicines to those working in other cities.
"No matter what difficulties the patients encounter, we will try our best to help them tide over the problems," Yang said. ■