China: Providing AIDS care and helping street children

In China, where an estimated 1.5 million people are living with HIV/AIDS, MSF has begun working with local medical staff to provide care and treatment. In May 2003, MSF opened a free clinic in Xiangfan city as part of a project targeting the estimated 45,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in Hubei province. Most of those who are HIV-positive in this part of central China were infected after selling blood to blood banks. Many are rural subsistence farmers with no access to the local, fee-based health care system. MSF teams are training local staff at various hospitals in safe blood and body-fluid handling and disposal techniques as well as in providing comprehensive care to those living with HIV/AIDS. Other activities include voluntary counseling and testing, treatment for opportunistic infections, home-based and palliative care. At the end of August 2004, 40 people, including 9 children, were receiving full treatment, including antiretrovirals (ARVs), in Xiangfan, and 189 patients overall were receiving care at the clinic. On 1 December 2003 MSF began a second HIV/AIDS project, in Nanning, Guangxi Autonomous Region. In collaboration with the Guangxi Ministry of Health and the provincial center for disease control, MSF has set up a clinic to provide care and ARV treatment for 10 to 20 new patients a month. As of July 2004, 137 patients were receiving care at the clinic, and of these, 82 were receiving ARV treatment. MSF's goal is for 250 patients to be receiving ARVs before the end of the year. MSF is also creating patient support groups as part of the fledgling network of HIV-positive people in this part of China. Getting children off the street MSF continues to provide psychosocial support to marginalized children in Baoji city, Shaanxi province where homeless children have become a growing social problem. Many of these youngsters have been exposed to physical and psychological trauma, neglect, abuse, hunger and rejection. In cooperation with authorities in Baoji, MSF has been running the Baoji Children's Center since March 2001. The MSF team and civil-affairs educators work with the children to provide temporary accommodation, medical and psychological care, food, schooling, and access to legal assistance. The full team has also started conducting outreach activities on the streets of Baoji. Closing a sanitation project MSF officially closed a water and sanitation project in Kashgar province of Xinjiang Autonomous Region in October 2003. This region of western China is predominantly made up of Muslim minority communities. In the townships of Yarkand and Yengisar, teams worked in cooperation with local authorities to bring clean drinking water to 8,500 people in the area. In addition to installing 58 water points (each providing water for an average 125 people), MSF staff promoted hygiene in the communities. MSF has worked in China since 1988. International Staff: 19 National Staff: 60