HIV-related deaths fall in China

HIV activists in China
Image caption China has come a long way in tackling HIV/Aids

Efforts to improve access to HIV drugs in China have cut deaths by more than 60% in seven years, researchers say.

China introduced free anti-retroviral drugs in 2003, reaching more than 60% of patients by 2009.

But experts say more needs to be done to speed up diagnosis and improve access to treatment in certain groups.

They include men, the elderly, migrants and ethnic minority groups, injecting drug users and people who have caught HIV through sexual contact.

The findings are published online in the Lancet Infectious Diseases journal.

Lead author Professor Fujie Zhang, from the National Centre for Aids/STD Control and Prevention, in Beijing, said: "Given the size of the country, and the geographical spread of individuals with HIV... China's treatment coverage is remarkable... but it is far from the goal of complete coverage of people who meet the treatment criteria."

Commenting on the study, Terrence Higgins Trust clinical director Jason Warriner said: "We know that access to testing and treatment, in the form of anti-retrovirals, is vital both in preventing deaths from HIV and stopping more people becoming infected.

"The earlier people are diagnosed with HIV the greater chance they have of being able to lead a long and healthier life.

"But there also needs to be ongoing education and awareness of HIV to help prevent more people becoming infected in the future."

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