• China celebrates World AIDS Day annually to spread information about the disease.

China celebrates World AIDS Day annually to spread information about the disease. (Photo : Getty Images)

The United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) Executive Director and Secretary General Michael Sibide praised the Chinese government on the progress of work done to eradicate the disease in the country.

Sibide said that in China, UNAIDS surveys indicate that there are more patients who are treated and that deaths from the disease have decreased.

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He said, "Since 2014, we have not had any babies born with HIV in Beijing, which is very important."

He clarified that control of transmission from mother to child is important. This controls the spread of HIV among children.

This is a major achievement in China. The UN issued a report in 2001 stating the gravity of the problem in the country.

The report said that there was "widespread lack of knowledge and protective life skills, huge internal labour migration, underprivileged minority communities, relative poverty, youth, and gender inequity. A serious outbreak in a country as large as China could significantly affect the economies of both China and the world as a whole."

Now, the country is improving ways to treat patients. Sibide acknowledged efforts by the government to strengthen government policies to fight stigma and discrimination.

"China, particularly the government," he said, "has been very helpful, supporting us to negotiate a new political declaration, which is key for the future."

Sibide was at the Xinhua News Agency to present an award to its president, Cai Mingzhao, for his contribution to the UN's goal of ending the epidemic by 2030.

The media plays a major role in disseminating information about the disease. Many people are gaining pro-health behaviors because of the influence of the press.

"All of that (progress) would never have happened without you, without our collective efforts, without solidarity. We can't reach people without innovation, without news, without information, without a new way to communicate," he said.

The AIDS epidemic has decreased significantly. In 2010, only less than a million patients were treated. There are over 17 million people treated by 2016.