A recent government order to cut the price of Aids drugs from specific suppliers by about 70 per cent does not go far enough to help sufferers, Aids workers and patients have said. Early last month the State Development Planning Commission cut the price of the drugs AZT and 3TC, imported from unnamed suppliers in Australia and the United States. According to China Daily, a patient should now pay 2,000 to 3,000 yuan (HK$1,880-$2,820) a month for these drugs. They previously cost about 10,000 yuan a month. Henan province villagers who contracted HIV from selling blood were too poor to afford the reduced prices, said Gao Yaojie, a retired Henan gynaecologist who has treated the villagers and lobbied for them despite intense official opposition that has only recently abated. 'What can they do?' Dr Gao said. 'The medicine should just be given to them.' For Song Pengfei, 20, a Beijing man who has taken the drugs for more than three years and campaigned for Aids victims, the price drop will benefit his parents, who pay 152,000 yuan a year for his medicine. Mr Song said city dwellers earning above-average incomes would welcome the news, but doubted if poorer people could afford treatment unless it dropped to less than 1,000 yuan a month. He was concerned that the media had not announced a new fixed price. Others were more conservative. 'I think 50 yuan per month should be about the average,' said Wendy Zhang, a health care consultant with China Concept Consulting in Beijing. 'If people work for state-owned enterprises they can't afford to pay too much.' About 600,000 Chinese people had HIV at the end of last year, according to government figures. The infection rate has grown 60 per cent a year in recent years. In December, the Ministry of Health announced a price cut on similar drugs. The announcement came as the Government began publicly coming to terms with its Aids problem. The ministry effectively suggested that it would help importers market the drugs if the companies cut prices, a senior health official with the United Nations Children's Fund in Beijing said. That month, after selling HIV/Aids medication in China for almost two years, major US pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline voluntarily cut the price of its drug Combivir to a quarter of the US price. But taxes amounting to 26 per cent plus distributor and hospital mark-ups of up to 40 per cent may drive the patient's cost back up again, a company spokeswoman said. She said GlaxoSmithKline tried to price its medication so people in developing countries could afford it 'because we have a duty to respond with flexibility in the areas where there are the greatest needs'. Last month's price drop applies to US-made drugs called Indinazir and Stonin, according to China Daily, and an AZT-3TC combination from Australia.