In an attempt to rein in Aids on the mainland, the State Council has approved a five-year plan aimed at prevention and control of the pandemic. To support the China Aids Control and Prevention Programme (2001-05), the central Government would allocate 100 million yuan (HK$94 million) a year from state coffers, Xinhua reported. Keeping the annual growth rate of HIV/Aids below 10 per cent and lowering the risk of contracting the disease to one out of every 100,000 who receive blood transfusions are the primary goals of the plan, the report said. Although the official number of Chinese with HIV/Aids was only 23,905 at the end of March, the Ministry of Health estimates the actual number is more than 600,000, as many cases go unreported. 'The annual growth rates of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/Aids cases, which might pose the world's largest health threat, have remained above 30 per cent in recent years,' Chen Xianyi, deputy director of the Ministry of Health's Disease Control Department, was reported as saying. The new plan has ordered all blood for clinical use to undergo complete HIV testing as a means to try and reduce the 71.2 per cent of victims who contract the disease through blood transmission, including intravenous drug use, unsafe blood supplies and illegal blood sales. Beijing has struggled to clean up a blood-supply industry in which private operators have infected donors and patients by failing to test for the virus, mixing supplies and transfusing back to blood-sellers contaminated blood once plasma has been extracted. The plan aims for 75 per cent of medical institutions above the county level to be able to diagnose infected people and provide them with treatment, counselling and other health services by the end of next year. Another aim is to improve general knowledge about the disease and remove some of the discrimination and intense social stigma those with HIV/Aids face, through more accurate media reports. The Government tried to implement a similar long-term Aids prevention plan in 1998, which hoped to keep infections below 1.5 million by 2010. 'However, the plan was not effectively implemented in some places because local officials were still unaware of the seriousness of the epidemic, even though the actual situation is getting really dangerous,' Mr Chen said. Many officials appear reluctant to take steps to slow the spread of the virus for fear of admitting drug use or prostitution in their regions. The Government says the virus is mostly transmitted by drug users sharing needles.