September 28, 2005

The William J Clinton Foundation, a charitable organisation founded by the former US president, has pledged to provide as many ARVs drugs for Chinese children infected with HIV/AIDS as required.

China has been included in a recent deal between the foundation and Indian generics maker Cipla, under which the local price of paediatric ARVs has been reportedly halved. The programme expects the number of children receiving the drugs in 10 poor countries to reach 10,000 by year-end.

However, there have been difficulties implementing the programme in China. The foundation aims to boost patients receiving treatment from just 200 to 2,000 and will work with the Chinese government to identify more cases. HIV/AIDS is a controversial topic in China, with locally produced ARVs provided free to adult HIV/AIDS patients. However, the country's sizeable domestic industry does not manufacture paediatric ARVs.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there were approximately 840,000 cases of HIV/AIDS in China in 2003. However, owing to the country's large population and the government's lacklustre response to the epidemic, this figure is expected to grow exponentially, in common with many other Asia-Pacific nations.